Diagram of Bowel Colon Colonoscope colonoscopy

What is a Colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is a procedure that enables us  to examine the colon (large bowel) for abnormalities. It provides a significantly more accurate assessment than an x-ray. Colonoscopy is a powerful tool in diagnosing digestive health issues such as colon cancer and bowel cancer. The colonoscope is a small flexible tube that has a tiny video camera inside that enables us to visualize your bowel.

We can take samples (known as biopsies) through the scope for examination by the pathology laboratory. Biopsies are an effective diagnostic method that can aid the prevention, identification and treatment of bowel cancer.  If we detect bowel polyps, we can remove them via a snare (known as polypectomy), thereby avoiding an operation.

You will be comfortably sedated for the procedure, lying on  your left side whilst the colonoscope gently traverses around the colon to the end of the bowel known as the caecum. As with all of the procedures performed at the Digestive Health Centre, we will take excellent care of you.

Many wonder about how to prepare for a colonoscopy.  We will advise you about the diet required for colonoscopy.  The colonoscopy diet is used to clean the bowel, allowing us to see the lining of your large intestine / colon in detail, looking for ulcers, growths and bowel cancer.  We will provide you with a comprehensive and tailored diet for your colonoscopy via our Pre-Admission clinic nurse.

Nurse explaining ColonoscopyPre-Admission Clinic

All of our patients attending for a colonoscopy are advised to either see our Pre-admission endoscopy nurses at least 1 week before your test, to receive a tailored bowel prep. We will discuss whether your usual medications should be adjusted prior to your procedure. We will also assess your specific medical conditions prior to you commencing the preparation.

Alternatively, we can email you the instructions and one of our nurses to schedule a time to discuss your prep with you by phone.

What can be expected during the procedure?
Our patients typically tolerate a colonoscopy very well.  We will give you a light anaesthetic prior to the procedure through a small needle into your vein. This will make you sleepy and comfortable, so that you do not feel anything. You should remember little or nothing of the procedure. The colonoscope will be gently passed into the back passage manoeuvering around the large bowel and sometimes into the first part of the small bowel. The test usually takes approximately 15 minutes to complete.

What are the potential side effects of a colonoscopy?
Although very rare, some colonoscopy side effects may include slight cramping and bloating. You will typically recover full recovery very quickly. However the effect of the sedative may take a couple of hours to wear off and you will need to organise a ride home. You cannot drive home after your colonoscopy. You are permitted to drive your car the next day.

For more detailed information regarding risks and side-effects, please open the following links.

If you have any of the following issues, we will need to see you prior to booking your colonoscopy to undergo a brief medical assessment by our doctor:

  • If you are aged 80 years or over
  • If you are on anticoagulants (blood thinners) such as Warfarin, Xarelto (Rivaroxaban), Clopidogrel (Plavix or Iscover), Eliquis (Apixiban), Pradaxa (Dabigatran), Effient (Prasugrel), Brillinta (Ticagrelor)
  • If you have a BMI over 40
  • If you have a BMI between 35-40 with significant health problems
  • If you have an unstable medical condition such as a recent (within the last 6 months) heart attack, stroke, severe asthma/ephysema etc..
  • If you are under 12 years of age.