A gastroscopy procedure involves a small camera attached to a long, thin, flexible tube being inserted into the stomach through the mouth.

It can be used to check the upper portion of your digestive system, including the throat, oesophagus, and stomach.

A gastroscopy is typically used to diagnose the causes of issues in your digestive system but may also be used to remove tissue for testing (biopsy) for diseases like cancer and treat certain conditions such as stomach ulcers.

What should you expect during a gastroscopy procedure in Australia? 

When you arrive at the hospital, nurses may ask some questions about your health and medical history. 

You may also be offered something to make you feel more comfortable such as a local anaesthetic spray to numb the back of your mouth and the inside of your throat, or sedation, which is a medicine given through a small tube in your arm to help you relax. 

The procedure may take around 15 to 45 minutes and isn’t painful. Once the camera-attached tube is inserted, air is pumped to inflate your stomach and a sample of cells may be taken. 

After the gastroscopy is finished, you may be moved into a recovery room and can leave whenever you feel well enough. This often takes only a few hours. 

How do you prepare for the procedure?

On the day of your gastroscopy, you will need to stop eating at least 6 hours prior to the test. You can have small sips of water if necessary. 

You should also avoid smoking cigarettes or chewing gum before the procedure and remove any piercings from the mouth. 

When the gastroscopy procedure begins, you may be offered either sedation or a local anaesthetic, so deciding your preference before the procedure is important.

If you opt for sedation, you may need to arrange for someone to collect you after the procedure and take you home. This is because the medicine can stay in your body for around 24 hours, which can make activities like driving unsafe. 

You will need to arrange for someone to stay with you during this time and might also need to take the next day off work—depending on the type of work you do. 

You should also inform your doctor about the medicines you're taking.

What should you do after a gastroscopy procedure?

After the procedure, you may experience some stomach and throat pain. Remember that this is normal and should pass in a few hours. 

If you’ve taken sedation, you should avoid engaging in the following activities for at least 24 hours:

  • Driving
  • Consuming alcohol
  • Operating machinery
  • Signing important documents

If you’ve taken a local anaesthetic spray, you should wait an hour before eating or drinking. 

In rare cases, patients may have a reaction to the sedation, experience bleeding, or have an infection following the procedure. In these cases, the medical team will take care of you. 

Consult a gastrointestinal specialist for a gastroscopy procedure in Australia

Dr Suhirdan Vivekanandarajah is a gastroenterologist and hepatologist based in Sydney and specialises in diagnosing and treating gastrointestinal conditions.

Schedule a consultation with Dr Suhirdan if you’d like to get a professional opinion about your gastrointestinal issues.