If you have been referred for a colonoscopy, or, if you are experiencing bowel related symptoms that need investigation, it can be reassuring to know exactly what to expect before you attend for your appointment. 

What is a colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is an investigative procedure that involves examining your large bowel using a long, flexible tube called a colonoscope, which has a small camera and light at one end.

The doctor will be able to see inside your bowel as images from the camera are relayed to a TV screen. The colonoscope call also be used to take tissue samples called biopsies or to remove polyps.

If left untreated, polyps can go on to develop into colorectal cancer so it is important to identify and remove them. A colonoscopy is a commonly used procedure, and complications are rare.

Why you have been referred

It is likely that you have been referred because you are experiencing symptoms that might indicate colorectal (rectal or colon) cancer, or another bowel disorder such as Crohn’s disease.

A colonoscope is used to detect colon cancer and other conditions affecting the colon

It is important to remember that your symptoms may not mean you have colorectal cancer, however in virtually all bowel related cancers, the earlier they are diagnosed the greater the chance of treatment being successful.

After the procedure your doctor will have a better idea what is causing your symptoms.

Preparing for a colonoscopy

It is important that your colon is empty when the investigation is carried out so the doctor can see exactly what is going on.

For this reason you will be given a powerful laxative to take at home the day before your appointment. Certain foods, such as beetroot, mimic the appearance of blood or abnormalities in the colon and should be avoided before the procedure.

You should stop eating the day before the procedure so your colon is empty. All of this will be clearly explained in your appointment letter.

Before the procedure

Please follow the instructions on your appointment letter which will give the date, time and place for your appointment. When you arrive for your appointment you will be asked to check your personal details. The doctor will explain the procedure and answer any questions you may have.

The procedure

You will be given a sedative to help you to relax and asked to lie on your side with your knees bent. The doctor will carry out a brief rectal examination by putting a finger gently inside your bottom.

Next the colonoscope will be inserted into your bottom and pushed carefully into your bowel as far as the small bowel. The doctor will then slowly remove the camera looking for abnormalities.

He may remove bowel polyps or take biopsies, which will be painless as there are no sensory receptors in the lining of the colon. On average, the colonoscopy should take approximately 15 minutes.

After the procedure

You will need to remain in the clinic for a while until the effects of the sedation have worn off. You should not drive after a colonoscopy so you will need to arrange for someone to come and collect you and to stay with you for a few hours.

You may experience some minor bleeding as well as mild abdominal pain. If the bleeding gets heavier or does not stop after a day or so, go back to your doctor.

FAQs about colonoscopies

The risks associated with colonoscopies are small. Rarely you might experience bleeding, a tear in the bowel or infection. If these do occur they will be treated with antibiotics or surgery.

Private Colonoscopy – London

Dr Jamie Murphy will perform colonoscopy diagnostic tests, for prompt diagnosis of the early signs of bowel cancer, as well as other bowel disorders.

It is the most accurate test to detect early signs of colon or rectal cancers and allows us to investigate fully what is happening within your bowel.

Contact us for more information if you are concerned about your health.

Various London locations for your convenience