021 551 8678


In a gastroscopy the contents of the stomach, duodenum and upper jejunum are inspected by inserting a flexible tube with a camera lens called an endoscope.

This endoscope goes through your mouth and down your oesophagus taking pictures of the inside of these areas.

The procedure is usually done as a day patient, that means that you do not need to spend the night in hospital.

When necessary, during the examination, a number of small procedures can also be carried out. These procedures may include:

  • Taking a small tissue sample (biopsy)
  • Stopping bleeding from an ulcer
  • Removal of polyps

What is a Gastroscopy

Abdominal pain is arguably the most common complaint among men and women, with women being more susceptible to one specific type of pain known as functional abdominal pain.

Functional abdominal pain refers to recurrent abdominal pain and is one of the most common childhood and adolescent complaints. It is true pain that can be quite severe.

Functional abdominal pain syndrome (FAPS) is a functional gastrointestinal disorder, which involves chronic or frequent pain that does not result from a specific, identifiable cause.

The vast majority of children and adolescents with recurrent abdominal pain have functional abdominal pain or “non-organic” pain, which means the pain is not caused by physical abnormalities.

It’s an extremely unpleasant sensation that can be likened to severe menstrual cramping accompanied by bloating and nausea.

The endoscope is inserted through the mouth, down the oesophagus, stomach and into the duodenum through a tiny opening called the stoma.

The endoscope is then advanced towards the oesophagus, where it enters through the oesophageal (or oesophageal) pouch, or the oesophagus (which connects to the stomach).

Gastroscopy is one of the most common outpatient procedures in gastroenterology, and is performed on patients in many different ways, including the following:

Gastro Barium Swallow

A barium swallow, also called an esophagogram, is an imaging test that checks for problems in your upper GI tract. 

Your upper GI tract includes your mouth, back of the throat, oesophagus, stomach, and first part of your small intestine.


Angiography is an imaging test that uses X-rays to view your body’s blood vessels. The X-rays provided by an angiography are called angiograms.

This test is used to study narrow, blocked, enlarged, or malformed arteries or veins in many parts of your body, including your brain, heart, abdomen, and legs.

gastroscopy_procedure explaiend

Gastroscopy Procedure Explained

An endoscope is similar to a video camera.

When a gastroscopy is performed, a doctor inserts the camera and, with help from two small stents called guidewires, guides the camera through the food pipe and into the body.

During the procedure, the gastroscopy camera can capture X-ray images and video of the food pipe and other internal organs of the body.

The video image is combined with other diagnostic information gathered during the endoscope procedure to help determine a problem.

First, the gastroscopy camera is inserted into the stomach. This is usually done through a small opening called a trocar in the stomach.

The trocar is then pushed through the food pipe to the duodenum (first part of the small intestine)

Located between the stomach and the middle part of the small intestine, or jejunum.

After foods mix with stomach acid, they move into the duodenum, where they mix with bile from the gallbladder and digestive juices from the pancreas.

The absorption of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients begins in the duodenum.



Common Uses for Gastroscopy

 The procedure can be used to:  

  • Check on a problem with food, such as reflux, vomiting and acid reflux, which can cause chest pain or difficulty swallowing.
  • Check for any signs of chronic pancreatitis, such as abdominal pain and food intolerance.
  • Check the liver for abnormalities, such as a viral infection.
  • Check for internal bleeding or trauma, or any underlying problem with the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
  • During the procedure, a small instrument called an endoscope is used to look inside the GI tract.

The endoscope is inserted into the nose, down the throat, into the stomach and duodenum and into the first part of the small intestine called the duodenum.

Gastroscopy Benefits

The gastroscopy helps to diagnose a number of conditions including gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and duodenal ulcers.  

GERD is a long-term condition in which the oesophagus becomes irritated and irritated food moves backwards up into the oesophagus and the stomach. 

Doctors use gastroscopy to look at the stomach from the front and side and make a diagnosis. 

It may be used to see if the stomach lining has become damaged, ulcerated, or inflamed. 

The procedure takes only 15 minutes, and a gastroscopy may be done at home after asking a few questions. The surgery can be done under general anaesthetic, although you may have to stay in hospital for the night.  

A gastroscopy is not used to look at the stomach after a patient eats food.


Risks Associated with A Gastroscopy

The most common risk of a gastroscopy is vomiting.

To prevent this, the endoscope is passed down the throat and the patient may swallow a barbiturate or an anti-emetic. If there is an allergic reaction, it may stop the procedure.

Occasionally, a gastric or oesophageal obstruction, which may prevent the stomach from emptying, may be detected with a gastroscopy.

This can be treated by allowing the gas time to move around the stomach and remove the obstruction.

In most cases, the procedure is done under local or general anaesthesia.

Upper endoscopy is a safe procedure and complications are uncommon. 

The following is a list of possible complications: 

Aspiration (inhaling) of food or fluids into the lungs, the risk of which can be minimised by not eating or drinking for the recommended period of time before the examination.

The endoscope can cause a tear or hole in the tissue being examined. This is a serious complication but fortunately occurs only rarely.

Bleeding can occur from biopsies or the removal of polyps, although it is usually minimal and stops quickly on its own or can be easily controlled.

Reactions to the sedative medications are possible; the endoscopy team (doctors and nurses) will ask about previous medication allergies or reactions and about health problems such as heart, lung, kidney, or liver disease. 

Providing this information to the team ensures a safer examination. 

The medications may produce irritation in the vein at the site of the intravenous line. If redness, swelling, or discomfort occurs, you should call your doctor. 

The following signs and symptoms should be reported immediately:

  • Severe abdominal pain (more than gas cramps)
  • A firm, distended abdomen
  • Vomiting
  • Any temperature elevation
  • Difficulty swallowing or severe throat pain
  • A crunching feeling under the skin of the neck

What Should I Expect After a Gastroscopy?

Most patients tolerate endoscopy very well and feel fine afterwards. Some fatigue is common after the examination, and you should plan to take it easy and relax the rest of the day.

The doctor can describe the result of the examination before you leave the hospital.

If biopsies have been taken or polyps removed your doctor will discuss further follow-up arrangements with you.

First 24 hours after your procedure:

  • Do not drink alcohol
  • Do not drive or use heavy machines
  • Do not make important decisions or sign any legal papers
  • Do not take any sedatives, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, or medicines that make you drowsy



Find a GI Specialist

There are various reason a patient might need to see a gastroenterologists.

The digestive system, also referred to as the gut or the gastrointestinal tract, is as important as any other system in the body and should be given the same level of care as others.

For further information on the procedures we perform, as well as how they can assist in diagnosing illnesses, contact Dr. Deetlefs today to schedule your appointment.


The information on this website is to provide general guidance. In no way does any of the information provided reflect definitive medical advice and self-diagnoses should not be made based on information obtained online. It is important to consult a Gastroenterologist or medical doctor regarding ANY and ALL symptoms or signs including, but not limited to: abdominal pain, haemorrhoids or anal / rectal bleeding as it may a sign of a serious illness or condition. A thorough consultation and examination should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call a physician or call our office today and schedule a consultation.

GIDoc Cape Town

Patient-focused GI treatments and procedures in Cape Town.

Monday-Friday 8AM-4PM.

Connect with Us

© Dr. Eduan Deetlefs, Registered Gastroenterologist, GI Doc Cape Town

Our website information is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a doctor about your specific condition. Only a trained physician can determine an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.