What does a gastroscopy look for?

Written by: Mr Himaz Marzook
Edited by: Cal Murphy

The digestive system is a long, complex section of our body, stretching from the mouth to the back passage. Many conditions can affect it. For some of these conditions, your doctor may order a gastroscopy – a test that involves inserting a tube with a camera down the throat. Why would you need this test? What conditions can it diagnose? We asked expert surgeon Mr Himaz Marzook for answers.

Why would you need a gastroscopy?

Gastroscopy is performed for a lot of reasons:

  • To look for the cause of pain in the upper part of the abdomen – indigestion, heartburn, etc., especially when long-term and not resolving with medication.
  • Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
  • To look for cancer in the food pipe, stomach, etc.
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting


Is it the same as an endoscopy?

Endoscopy is a more generalised term, while gastroscopy is more specific.

Basically, the difference is that endoscopy can refer to a test that involves inserting the camera at either end of the digestive tract (mouth or anus), but gastroscopy is specifically the camera test from the top end, inserted through the mouth to examine the stomach and sometimes the duodenum. Gastroscopy is, therefore, a type of endoscopy.


What conditions can it diagnose?

Gastroscopy is used to diagnose the conditions that cause the aforementioned symptoms. Such conditions include:

  • Coeliac disease, gluten allergies, etc. – here the gastroscopy may involve biopsies of the duodenum.
  • Stomach ulcers and duodenal ulcers.
  • Helicobacter pylori – gastroscopy can test lining of stomach for this bacteria, which can be a cause of indigestion.
  • Stomach cancer
  • Oesophageal cancer


What kind of sedation is used?

Gastroscopy can be done in two ways:

  • A throat spray may be used to numb the throat (not sedation). This is similar to going to a dentist and having your gum numbed before tooth extraction – no injection is used. It wears off in about an hour and you are able to leave, drive and go about your day without problems. This is a big advantage.
  • Sedation makes you more relaxed and it doesn’t put you to sleep completely, unlike anaesthetic. You are awake and know what’s going on. The advantage is a retrograde amnesia effect, so you will not remember the test. When you have sedation, you can’t drive – make sure somebody can pick you up and be with you for at least 24 hours.

Rarely, if patients can’t tolerate these, we offer general anaesthetic, but this is not recommended to be done routinely.


What are the after effects?

When the patient has throat spray, this will numb the throat. It may feel like they cannot swallow or breathe, but this is just a feeling of numbness – it doesn’t actually prevent these actions. After the procedure, there might be some soreness where the camera has been, but this is only temporary. It usually wears off after 45 minutes to an hour.

During gastroscopy, gas is used to inflate the stomach to make it easier to see. This should not be painful, but may cause some discomfort, or a feeling of bloating. However, it is a quick procedure, lasting 2-3 minutes, after which the patient will burp to expel the gas.


How much does gastroscopy cost?

The cost of gastroscopy depends on the patient’s insurance. Uninsured, the entire procedure, including hospital charges, doctor’s fees, nurses, etc. would come to about £1,500.


Book an appointment at Mr Marzook’s Top Doctors profile page.

Mr Himaz Marzook

By Mr Himaz Marzook

Mr Himaz Marzook is an esteemed consultant general surgeon who is highly experienced in gallstone disease, gall bladder removal, hiatus hernia surgery, groin and incisional hernias, and the treatment of indigestion, heartburn and upper abdominal pain. Mr Marzook works privately at Spire Little Aston Hospital, Nuffield Derby, BMI The Priory, Queen's Burton Clinic and Sutton Medical Consulting Centre. He has repaired numerous complex and recurrent hernias in the groin, including incisional hernia, and is an expert in hernia surgery, lumps and bumps and has performed a number of emergency surgeries for appendicitis. 

Mr Marzook graduated from medical school in Sri Lanka in 1995 before moving to the UK. He gained his extensive experience in the surgery of the liver and gallbladder from his training at a specialised tertiary hospital in Liverpool. He trained in upper gastrointestinal surgery in West Yorkshire and Hull. After his training, he was appointed to the post of consultant laparoscopic general and upper gastrointestinal surgeon at the University Hospital of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust

At present, along with his private practice and NHS post, he is an honorary senior lecturer at Leicester University School of Medicine where he trains undergraduate medical students and is the foundation programme director for junior doctors.

Mr Marzook strives for the highest level of patient care, providing the very best standard of surgical treatment and patient satisfaction for all his patients. He also provides courses for GPs on gallstone disease and hernia surgery. He's a member of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, Hernia Society UK, the College of Surgeons Sri Lanka and the Association of Upper Gastrointestinal Surgeons.