What is Colonoscopy?

Colonoscopy is an examination to inspect the inner lining of the large bowel (rectum and colon) using a flexible tube with a camera at its tip. It is inserted via the anus and gently guided to the start of the large bowel (caecum).

During colonoscopy, carbon dioxide gas is used to inflate the bowel to allow a safe passage of the colonoscope through the bowel. If an abnormality is encountered a tissue biopsy can be taken through the colonoscope and sent for histological examination. If polyps are found, these small growths of the bowel lining can be removed with either cautery (hot biopsy) or a wire loop device (snare). This allows tissue to be retrieved and sent for histological examination. Early detection and removal of polyps protects from developing colorectal cancer.

A colonoscopy allows an examination of the entire colon (1200–1500 mm in length). A sigmoidoscopy allows an examination of the distal portion (about 600 mm) of the colon, which may be sufficient because benefits to cancer survival of colonoscopy have been limited to the detection of lesions in the distal portion of the colon.

What should I expect during colonoscopy procedure?

During colonoscopy, patient will lie on their l back or left side.Patient is continously montiored for heart beat(rhythm) and blood pressure and oxygen in the blood. Medications are given through a intravenous line so the patient feel relaxed. After tip of the colon or last portion of the small intestine is reached, the colonoscope is withdrawn slowly, and the colon lining is carefully examined. Colonoscopy may often make you feel bloating and cramping in the abdomen area, but with the medications pain becomes infrequent and tolerable. Generally, the colonoscopy procedure last for 15 to 60 minutes; if the colon cannot be visualized properly, the physician can try colonoscopy again at a later date.

Preparing for Colonoscopy :

For the treatment of Colonoscopy, preparation is required prior the test to empty the bowel of its content. Failure to do this may result in an incomplete or inadequate examination and the need to repeat the procedure. The preparation involves drinking a “bowel prep” solution which has a laxative effect. This should be done at home as you will need to be close to the toilet for the duration of the preparation.During the preparation you are not allowed to eat any solid food. You are allowed clear fluids (apple juice, water, clear soup, etc) until 6 hours prior to the procedure. Only when your bowel motion is the consistency of clear liquid, is your preparation adequate. If your bowel motion is still dirty (brown) you may require further preparation or an enema prior to the colonoscopy. You should fast from six hours prior to the procedure. Take all medication as required with a sip of water during the fasting period.

Taking care of yourself at home after colonoscopy :

General suggestions include the following :

Do not drive yourself home after a colonoscopy procedure

Don’t consume alcohol, as it may interact with the medications.

Follow all dietary suggestions

Colonoscopy Procedure:

When you arrive on the day of your colonoscopy you will change into a hospital gown and an intravenous line (drip) will be inserted into your arm. This will allow your doctor to give you intravenous fluid and medication. The procedure is done with sedation or a light anaesthetic. The procedure takes approximately 30-45 minutes, but longer if polyps are removed or biopsies are taken. After the procedure you will need 1-2 hours to recover from the sedation or an aesthetic. You should have minimal discomfort. You must not drive or operate machinery after your procedure and you will need a family member or friend to take you home. You will need to take two days off for the procedure, one for the bowel preparation and the other for recovery from the sedation and procedure.

Colonoscopy is a safe procedure with a low risk of complications. The most significant risk of this is a perforation of the bowel. The risk of this is approximately 1 in 1000. If a biopsy or polypectomy is performed the risk of bleeding from this is about 3 in 1000. In addition, although this is the best test for detection of cancer there is a small risk of missing a small cancer. The risks and benefits of colonoscopy should be discussed in detail with your doctor prior to proceeding with the test.

Our team of well trained colorectal surgeons are committed to the diagnosis and treatment of bowel cancer. Our surgeons consult from Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPAH) Medical Center, and if required organise procedures at RPAH and Sydney Day Surgery.

The specific details of your colonoscopy bowel preparation will be discussed and given to you at the time of your consultation.


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