Colonoscopy

Your specialist has advised you to have a test called a Colonoscopy at Liverpool Day Surgery. Colonoscopy is used to inspect the large bowel (colon). Some of the symptoms for Colonoscopy are:

These complaints can be caused by a wide variety of disorders, including:

How is the bowel prepared?

In order for your Doctor to get the best possible view and make the Colonoscopy easier, your large bowel needs to be cleaned out of all waste material.  You will need a preparation kit which your Doctor will arrange and instructions will be given on how to use the kit. Usually this involves a special diet for a day or two, consisting of no solid food and clear fluids the day before the procedure.  You need to have nothing to eat or drink for six hours before the procedure is done.  However, you may have a sip of water with your regular medications.

Take your regular medications on the day of the test unless otherwise advised by your Doctor.

Special considerations

If you have diabetes, heart valve disease, have a pacemaker implanted or are taking blood thinning tablets such as Warfarin it is important to discuss this with your doctor before the Colonoscopy is organised as special arrangements may be necessary.

How is colonoscopy done?

The colonoscopy is performed while you lie on your left side, although occasionally it may be necessary for you to lie on your back at some stage during the procedure.  The instrument is inserted through the back passage and examines the entire length of the large bowel.  Most colonoscopies take between 20 and 45 minutes.

Polypectomy (removal of polyps)

Benign rectal polyp

Benign rectal polyp

Polyps are usually non-cancerous growths on the lining of the GI tract. They vary in size from one millimetre to five centimetres and sometimes develop into cancer if left untreated. If your Gastroenterologist finds a polyp, it may be removed by a special wire loop (called a snare). This is inserted through the colonoscope. The snare is placed around the polyp which is then severed from the colon lining by electrical current passed through the wire snare. Electrocautery is applied to stop any bleeding.

As a Gastroenterologist cannot always tell a non-cancerous polyp from a cancerous polyp, polyps are usually sent to a pathologist for histological Analysis.

Sometimes a polyp may not be removed Endoscopically because it is to large or to difficult to reach. In such a case, the Gastroenterologist may recommend that the patient have surgery for removal of the polyp.

What happens after Colonoscopy

Following the procedure you will remain in the recovery area for approximately one and a half hours until the effect of the medication wears off. At all times the Nurses will monitor your condition and offer refreshments before you are discharged. When you are ready for discharge you will be given specific written instructions on what to do once you get home including contact details if you have any problems or concerns. Because of the sedation given it is very important that you do not drive a car, travel on public transport alone, operate machinery, sign legal documents or drink alcohol for 24 hours after the test.  A friend or relative needs to take you home and stay with you.

Safety and risks

The Colonoscope is disinfected and cleaned according to Australian Standards – 4187   to avoid the risk of transmission of serious diseases such as HIV, hepatitis B or C.

Colonoscopy is considered to be the most accurate test of the colon.  However, there is a risk that an abnormality may not be detected.

Serious complications of Colonoscopy are rare, at less than one in a thousand examinations. However complications can occur and include but are not limited to the following:

This information has been sourced in part from the Gastroenterological Society of Australia (GESA)

This is not meant to replace professional advice from your medical practitioner.

The Gastroenterological Society of Australia is the professional body representing the Specialty of Gastrointestinal and liver disease in Australia.  Members of the Society are drawn from Physicians, Surgeons, Scientists and other medical specialties with an interest in GI disorders.

If you have any questions or concerns about the procedure or don’t fully understand the contents of this document, you should discuss this with your Doctor prior to undergoing the procedure.