A colonoscopy is a painless endoscopic procedure that allows your doctor to look
at the large bowel (colon and rectum) for polyps, inflammation or signs of cancer.
An ileo-colonoscopy is a diganostic test that allows your doctor to look inside your large bowel with a flexibile endoscope. It’s carried out using a long, narrow, flexible, telescopic camera called a colonoscope. Your doctor will pass the colonoscope into your bowel through your anus.
A colonoscope can help your doctor to find out what is causing symptoms such as:
- persistent diarrhoea or a change in your bowel habit
- bleeding from your rectum or blood in your faeces
- passing slime or mucus from your bowel
- feeling tired, weak or breathless
These may be the result of:
- inflammation caused by conditions such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn disease
- polyps (small growths of tissue, sometimes called adenomas)
- colorectal cancer (CRC)
Colonoscopy is carried out in our private endoscopy unit and is usually done as a day case. This means you have the test and go home the same day. It’s very important that your bowel is completely empty during the test so that your doctor can see it clearly. The main thing that you need to do to prepare for this is to take a strong laxative, prescriptions will be provided for you by our stuff. Usually you will need to take them the day before your colonoscopy. The laxative will be quite powerful and will give you diarrhoea, so you will need to stay close to a toilet and drink plenty of clear fluids to make sure you don’t get dehydrated.
The colonoscopy procedure usually takes 30 to 45 minutes to complete. Our endoscopy nurse will ask you to put on a hospital gown that opens at the back or a gown and trousers that have a hole cut in the back. You will be asked to wear an oxygen mask or have small tubes placed just under your nostrils through which oxygen is passed. You will have a drip inserted into a vein in the back of your hand to give you any medicines you may need. You will be given low dose narcotics (Propofol) and a painkiller to make sure you’re painless, relaxed and in deep sedation during the procedure.
Your doctor will ask you to lie on your left-hand side and he or she will gently insert the colonoscope into your rectum. Lubricating jelly will be used to make this as easy as possible. Air will be pumped into your bowel to make it expand slightly, which makes the colonoscope pass through more easily. Your doctor will gently move the colonoscope up through your bowel. The colonoscope is flexible and the doctor can rotate the tip of the instrument so that it follows the curves in your bowel. The images from the camera at the end of the colonoscope appear on a monitor – these enable your doctor to look at the inside of your bowel. During the procedure you may be asked to change your position – for example turning from your side on to your back. This helps your doctor to look at different areas of your bowel. The endoscopic nurse may press on your abdomen to help move the colonoscope in the right direction. During the procedure your doctor may take a biopsy or remove small polyps with a polypectomy snare. This is quick and painless and is done by passing instruments inside the colonoscope. The samples will be sent to a pathological laboratory for histological testing to see if the cells are benign or malignant (cancerous).