A colonoscopy is a procedure carried out using colonoscope (a thin flexible tube with a light and camera at the tip) is passed through the rectum and into the large colon (large intestine). This procedure enables the gastroenterologist to examine the entire length of the large intestine (known also as the colon). During the procedure, the gastroenterologist may take biopsies (small samples of tissue) which will later be inspected by a pathologist. If present, polyps (abnormal tissue growth) will be removed as they have the potential to transform into cancer.
A colonoscopy may be performed for a number of reasons:
In order to create optimal conditions for the procedure, the colon must be entirely emptied beforehand. This is achieved by taking a specific bowel preparation (see patient instructions). An unprepared colon lowers the success rate of the procedure and may result in you having to return for a repeat procedure.
For safety reasons it is important that you follow the instruction sheet provided and have nothing to drink for at least 4 hours prior to your colonoscopy.
While most medications can be taken as usual with a sip of water on the day of your colonoscopy, some medications need to be stopped, or have their dose altered.
Make sure to notify your physician at least 7 days prior to your procedure if you are taking:
Make sure to bring your referral, a list of the medications you’re taking, and your medicare card/private health fund information on the day of your procedure.
Once the procedure is finished, you will be monitored in the recovery area until most of the anesthesia has worn off. You will then be offered a drink and some food. At home, regular food can be consumed unless the physician instructs otherwise.
You MUST NOT drive, return to work, operate heavy machinery or sign and legal documents on the same day of the gastroscopy. A designated driver MUST be appointed in advance to drive you home. You will need to have someone stay with you overnight after the procedure.
Colonoscopies are a very safe procedure that most patients tolerate very well.
The most common side effect is abdominal bloating or discomfort related to air blown into the bowel during the test.
Very rarely do severe complications occur, these include
-bleeding from the bowel
-perforation (tear in the lining of the colon) These can often be repaired using colonoscopy-guided interventions or sometimes surgery.
-reaction to the anaesthetic
Contact GastroX or your nearest emergency department if you have any concerns or experience any of the following symptoms after your colonoscopy: