This is an outpatient test that is performed to diagnose and treat abnormalities in the colon and the last few centrimetres of the small intestine. A long, flexible tube (about the thickness of a finger) with a tiny camera on the end is inserted via the anus.
So that we can clearly see the lining of the colon, you will need to follow a specific diet in the days prior to the procedure and drink a bowel preparation (or laxative) which cleanses the bowel. This means you may go to the toilet around 10 times in the evening before and morning of the procedure. Having easy access to a toilet is recommended. We expect you to be passing a clear fluid when you go to the toilet by the end of taking the bowel preparation.
Once you arrive at the hospital, you will change in to a hospital gown and have the chance to ask any questions prior to the examination. In the procedure room, you will lie on your left side with your knees bent up to your chest. After making you feel relaxed with the use of medications, the thin flexible camera) is inserted via your back passage.
Clean medical air (or carbon dioxide) is inserted during the procedure so that it expands the colon and improves the views. This occasionally causes a sensation of bloating so you should let that medical air pass back out if needed. We expect that to happen!
The camera is carefully moved all the way round the different sections of the colon. As the colon has a few bends, some patients experience discomfort when the camera causes stretching in these bendy areas. We can give you extra painkiller or relaxing agent, ask you to change position on the bed or put some pressure on your abdomen with our hands to alleviate this discomfort.
Multiple photos are taken, biopsies (or samples) of the colon can be obtained and small growths (called polyps) can be removed. The whole procedure usually lasts less than 30 minutes.
You are then taken to a recovery area and informed of the findings once you have woken up.
Overall, there is very low risk of causing any complications like bleeding or a hole in the bowel.