This is a procedure which allows the doctor to see inside your large bowel and examine the surfaces directly and take biopsies (samples of tissue) if needed. Removal of polyps and treatment of bleeding or piles can also be undertaken.
What to expect
The colonoscope is a flexible plastic-coated tube a little thicker than a ballpoint pen which has a tiny camera attached that sends images to a viewing screen. You will be given a sedative (medicine that will make you sleepy but is not a general anaesthetic). The tube is passed into the rectum (bottom) and gently moved along the large bowel. The procedure takes on average 30mins and your oxygen levels and heart rhythm are monitored throughout.
The procedure is performed in a purpose built endoscopy theatre.
Before the procedure
Full written information will be sent to you, but in short: you will need to follow a special diet and take some laxatives (medicine to make you go to the toilet) over the days leading up to the test. You may be asked to stop or reduce some of your medications before the test. You will be fasting for about four hours before the test.
Risks of a colonoscopy are rare but include:
- bleeding if a biopsy is performed
- allergic reaction to the sedative
- perforation (tearing) of the bowel wall.
- Colonoscopy Information Pamphlet (PDF, 607.4 KB)