During an endoscopy, a thin flexible tube will be put into your oesophagus (gullet or food pipe). This tube has a camera and a light attached to it, which lets your doctor see anything unusual inside your oesophagus. The test is also known as an oesophagoscopy. It is usually done under local anaesthetic. Sometimes a general anaesthetic is given before the test. If this happens, you may have to stay overnight in hospital.
Before the test
You will have to fast for a few hours beforehand.
Will I have pain relief / anaesthetic?
Your doctor give you a mild sedative. This will help you feel more relaxed or you may fall asleep. A local anaesthetic will be sprayed onto the back of your throat to numb it.
During the test
Once your throat is numb, your doctor will gently pass the tube into your oesophagus. They can look through the tube to check for any abnormal areas. Samples of tissue (biopsies) can also be taken at this time.
How long does it take?
Does it hurt?
It can be a bit uncomfortable having the tube down your throat but it doesn’t hurt.
After the test
You cannot eat or drink anything for at least 4 hours after the test. This is because your throat will be numb from the anaesthetic.
You may also feel drowsy and sleepy. Or you may not remember much about having the test, if you were sedated. Once the sedation wears off (about an hour), you can go home.
Make sure you arrange for someone to take you home, as you’re not allowed to drive for 24 hours after having sedation.
Are there side-effects / risks?
You might have a sore throat for a couple of days but this will soon clear up. If not, contact your doctor at the hospital.
Tell your doctor if you have any problems like chest pain, bleeding or fever afterwards.
Cancer Research UK has a very helpful video on this.
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