This is a procedure where the large bowel and part of the small bowel is examined using a flexible telescope called a colonoscope. This device is used to view the colon via lenses and fibreoptic cables that connect to a monitor.

A colonoscopy is recommended if any of the following symptoms are present.

  • Bleeding from the rectum
  • Blood in a stool sample
  • Pus or mucus in a stool sample
  • Unexplained abdominal pain
  • Altered bowel habits (excessive or unexplained bowel movements or recent constipation)

A colonoscopy is also used to screen patients who are at risk of cancer of the colon.

The procedure itself typically takes 15-30 minutes. A sedative is provided to induce sleep so no immediate pain is felt by the patient. The camera is gently manoeuvred to the point where the large and small intestines meet and slowly withdrawn, allowing the surgeon to view the colon lining on the monitor.

Any abnormalities viewed can be further investigated by taking samples for further analysis. Polyps are removed and biopsies sent for testing to rule out cancerous growths.

Due to the sedatives, the patient is unaware of the procedure, but post-operation might experience some discomfort including:

  • Gas
  • Minor cramps in the abdominal cavity
  • A bloating sensation.

Due to the mild sedatives taken prior to the procedure, patients should not drive themselves home.

A colonoscopy is a safe procedure that is very effective at helping doctors determine any bowel-related abdominal issues. The discomfort experienced post-operation is typically gone within a few days.