Endoscopy: Gastroscopy and Colonoscopy

Endoscopic procedures involve the use of a special camera which is inserted into the gastrointestinal tract either via the mouth (gastroscopy) or anus (colonoscopy).

What is a gastroscopy?

A gastroscopy is a technique to examine the oesophagus, stomach and duodenum. It involves passing a thin tube with an inbuilt video camera (gastroscope) through the mouth, down the oesophagus and into the stomach. This can be uncomfortable, and so a gastroscopy is typically done under sedation. Patients usually go home a couple of hours later.

When is gastroscopy recommended?

Gastroscopy may be recommended in a number of situations, including:

  • Iron deficiency anaemia
  • Positive faecal occult blood test
  • Bleeding from the gastrointestinal tract
Are there any risks with gastroscopy?

Complications following gastroscopy are very uncommon, and serious complications are rare. Details of the risks will be discussed with you by your specialist beforehand.

What is colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is a technique where a long, thin, flexible tube with an inbuilt video camera is inserted in the rectum via the anus, and is guided into the colon. This colonoscope transmits a picture onto a video screen. A biopsy of any suspicious area is commonly performed. A sedative is usually given to help you relax. It can take between 15 minutes and an hour, and you will be able to go home a couple of hours later.

Why is colonoscopy performed?

Colonoscopy may be recommended for a variety of reasons:

  • Routine screening for bowel cancer or surveillance of polyps
  • Black or bloody stools
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Persistent diarrhea
  • Iron deficiency anaemia
  • Unintended weight loss

Colonoscopies can detect a range of serious bowel conditions, including:

  • Cancer
  • Benign tumours
  • Ulcers and inflammation
  • Polyps
  • Active bleeding
What are the risks of colonoscopy?

Colonoscopy is generally a fairly safe procedure, with few risks. Potential side effects include:

  • Bowel perforation
  • Bleeding following biopsy or tissue removal
  • Reactions to any sedatives


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