It is done to investigate reasons for problems of the food pipe, such as difficult or painful swallowing. It is also done if you have head and neck cancer to see the extent of your cancer or to see if you have additional cancer in your food pipe. Occasionally it may need to be done urgently to remove food stuck in the gullet.

This is done under a general anesthetic. During this, we will pass a long metal tube (oesophagoscope) through your mouth into your food pipe. This allows us to look at the inside of the food pipe to identify any problems that may be affecting your swallowing. If there are any problem areas, a small part of the lining of the gullet is taken away for laboratory examination. This is called a biopsy.

Oesophagoscopy is quite quick and usually takes less than 20 minutes. Sometimes it is performed together with a microlaryngoscopy or direct laryngoscopy.

After oesophagoscopy, you may find that your throat hurts. This is because of the metal tubes that are passed through your throat to examine the foodipe. Any discomfort settles quickly with simple painkillers and usually only lasts a day or two. Some patients feel their neck is slightly stiff after the operation.

Oesophagoscopy is very safe. Very rarely, there is a risk that the metal tubes may chip your teeth. I use a guard to help prevent this happening. If I need to take a biopsy or stretch the food pipe during the oesophagoscopy, there is a very small risk of a tear in the lining of the gullet.

This tear in the food pipe can sometime causes a leak through the wall of the food pipe that can very rarely lead to serious chest infection. If this happens, you will need to stay in hospital and not eat or drink anything. You will then be fed with either a small tube through your nose into your stomach, or through a drip into a vein in your arm. This allows you to get special liquid food, while the leak in the wall of the gullet heals up. This may take several days. Very rarely, you may need another operation to close this leak.

I will be able to tell you what was found, and what I did to help you, on the same day as your operation. If any biopsies were taken, these normally take a few days to process in a laboratory. I will arrange to see you again for your results.

Usually you can go home the same day as the operation, as long as you have someone with you.

You may be advised to stay off work for a few days to rest your throat, depending on your job.


Northampton General Hospital
NHS Hospital
Northampton NN1 5BD
Tel - 01604 634700
BMI Three Shires Hospital
Private Hospital
Northampton NN1 5DR
Tel - 01604 620311


For private consultation please contact
Tel – 07504 818402