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Why does my child need this test?

Your child needs this test so that the doctors can check the lining of the oesophagus, stomach and duodenum and also take biopsies to confirm or discount particular diagnoses. There is no other way to get such a clear idea of the condition of this part of the body.

Illustration diagram of the stomach, intestines and colon

What is an upper GI endoscopy?

A gastroscopy is a test which allows the doctor to look at your child’s oesophagus (gullet or the feeding tube), stomach and duodenum (where the stomach joins the small intestine). To do this test, an endoscope (a thin, flexible tube that transmits pictures onto a screen) is passed through your child’s mouth and down into their stomach. The doctor can then look down the tube and have a clear view to see whether there are any problems and take biopsies if needed.

What are biopsies?

The doctor may need to take tiny biopsies (samples of tissue about 1 to 2mm in diameter) during this test, which can later be analysed in the laboratory. This is done painlessly.

How long will the test last?

The test usually lasts about 20 minutes but it will take longer than this to get your child back with you on the ward.

What happens before the test?

You will have received a ‘Welcome to the hospital’ leaflet and admission letter which will give you all the information about when your child has to stop eating and drinking, it is important that you follow these instructions as the test will not go ahead or will be delayed if you don’t.

You will have the opportunity to ask your doctor any questions you may have about the procedure. When you are satisfied that your questions have been answered then you will be asked to sign a consent form. Your child may also do so.

The anaesthetist (the doctor who will be responsible for looking after your child when they are asleep) will also visit you on the ward. Please bring in any medicines your child is taking to the ward with you and show them to your doctor.

Can I be with my child when they go to sleep?

You and your child will be taken to the theatres by the nurse who is looking after you. Your child will already have on some ‘magic cream’ (cream that numbs the skin) in preparation for them having a cannula (thin, plastic tube) inserted into the vein. Your child will be given some anaesthetic medicine through this that will send them to sleep. You will then be taken by your nurse back to the ward to wait for your child.

What happens after the test?

After the test your child will be taken to the recovery unit to wake up. When they are awake enough you will be able to go down to recovery to be with your child and then you will be brought by a nurse up onto the ward. The nurses will check your child’s pulse and breathing and when they are happy that they are awake enough the nurses will let your child have something to drink and then eat. When the doctor has seen you to discuss the initial findings of the procedure and your child has eaten, drank and passed urine and is recovered from the anaesthetic then the cannula will be removed and you can go home. An outpatient appointment will be made in order to discuss the biopsies and any blood test results with you when they become available.

What are the possible complications of the test?

There is a very small risk that the endoscope could damage your child’s oesophagus. However this is very unlikely as it is flexible and the doctors who do this test are very experienced. Your child may vomit small spots of blood from their stomach following the test. This is normal because of the biopsies that have been taken. Blood spotting may occur up to 72 hours after the test. If your child starts to vomit large amounts of blood (more than 1 tablespoonful) or there is a lot of abdominal pain please contact the hospital.

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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

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