A colonoscopy is an examination of the large intestine using a flexible tube called a colonoscope. The procedure may be necessary if, for example, your stools contain blood or you are suffering from constipation or diarrhoea. Using the colonoscope, the doctor can also take tissue samples and carry out various procedures.
A colonoscopy can, for example, show whether there are any ulcers or tumours in the large intestine, or if there is inflammation in the bowel.
If you have heart or lung problems, you need to explain them to your doctor. The same applies if you are using insulin or are taking blood-thinning medicine.
Before the procedure begins, laxatives must be taken so as to empty the bowel contents. If you are taking medication that contains fibre or iron, you should stop taking them one week before the examination.
How is the procedure performed?
Before the procedure, you will be given some anaesthetic ointment for the anus. You will then lie on a bed, whilst the doctor inserts the colonoscope through your rectum.
The procedure can sometimes cause pain or feel uncomfortable at the moment when the colonoscope is inserted, but relaxants and painkillers are available if needed.
An examination can take from fifteen minutes to an hour to perform.
How will you feel afterwards?
Following the examination, your stomach may feel tense and bloated because of air that has been able to enter, and you may also feel stomach ache. Any discomfort usually disappears when the air is released. You can eat and drink as normal after the examination.
If you have been given a sedative, you may need to stay at the clinic for an hour or two. You should not drive until the following day.
It can be a good idea to bring someone with you for the examination, and you may need to take time off work for the rest of the day.