A colonoscopy is a procedure that enables your doctor to examine the lining of the large bowel (colon). You will drink a preparation to wash out the bowel before the procedure. After you are comfortably sedated, a colonoscope (flexible tube with a camera) is gently passed from the rectum, around the large bowel. The bowel will be carefully inspected and depending on the reason for your colonoscopy, small tissue biopsies may be taken, or polyps (growths of the bowel lining) may be removed. Colonoscopy is the best test to assess for bowel polyps, and exclude bowel cancer.

The procedure is usually takes 20 – 30 minutes, and most patients will not remember the procedure at all.

What Bowel Preparation is required?

To provide the endoscopist with a good view, and the procedure to be successful, the colon must be clean. This is achieved by following a special diet on the day before the procedure and by drinking a bowel preparation. There are a number of different options for bowel preparation and your doctor will let you know which one to use. A bowel preparation will wash out the bowel and cause a watery diarrhoea in the process. Additional instructions will be required if you are taking blood thinning or diabetes medications. Bowel Preparation Kits are available for purchase at the GastroNorth main rooms or at your local pharmacy without a prescription.

What do I need to bring?

You will need to bring your health fund card and Medicare card. Please wear loose fitting clothing. You will need to change into a patient gown for the procedure. Any jewellery and valuables should be left at home.

What happens afterwards?

Patients will typically recover very quickly following the procedure however, you may be a little drowsy for several hours following the colonoscopy due to the sedation administered. A friend or family member needs to drive you home and stay with you till the next day. You must not drive until the following day and not operate heavy machinery or drive with a commercial licence for 24 hours afterwards. You can continue taking your regular prescription medications unless you have been informed otherwise.
Please contact your doctor if you experience any severe abdominal pain, heavy bleeding, fevers/chills, breathing difficulty, or any other symptoms you are concerned about. Alternatively, visit your local emergency department.

Is Colonoscopy safe?

Colonoscopy is a safe and well-tolerated procedure. At GastroNorth, we are committed to your safety. We only perform procedures in high quality centres and use specialist anaesthetic doctors to care for you during the procedure. We focus on the most effective, yet safe techniques. For example, the majority of polyps can be safely and effectively removed using ‘cold snare’ techniques that do not require an electrical current to remove polyps. This technique has been proven to significantly reduce the chance of complications, like bleeding from polyp removal.

Some people may get temporary bloating or abdominal discomfort however, this usually soon passes. Most people feel drowsy after the sedation and occasionally experience nausea or light-headedness.

Complications with colonoscopy are rare but do include the risk of :

Apiration – (stomach contents entering airway): uncommon < 1%
Bleeding – if a polyp is removed – this may occur up to 2 weeks following the procedure and rarely requires hospitalisation or further procedures to stop the bleeding; uncommon with most colonoscopy procedures < 2% cases, very rare from biopsies
Infection – uncommon < 1%
Teeth Damage – uncommon < 1:500
Perforation (a hole in the gut wall) which may require surgery – very rare

If you wish to discuss the details of all possible rare complications, you should inform your doctor and/or anaesthetist prior to the procedure.

If you have any questions, please contact GastroNorth on 9468 9700.