What is a colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is a procedure to look at the inside of the large bowel (colon) using a flexible telescope.
Sometimes a polyp is the cause of the problem and the endoscopist may be able to remove it during the procedure. (see fig.1).
Are there any alternatives to a colonoscopy?
Other options include a barium enema (an x-ray test of the large bowel) or a CT colography (a special scan of the large bowel).
What does the procedure involve?
If appropriate, the endoscopist may offer you a sedative or painkiller.
A colonoscopy usually takes between half an hour and three-quarters of an hour. The procedure involves placing a flexible telescope into the back passage and blowing some air into the large bowel to get a clear view. The endoscopist will be able to look for problems such as inflammation or polyps. They will be able to perform biopsies and take photographs to help make the diagnosis.
What complications can happen?
Allergic reaction Breathing difficulties or heart irregularities Making a hole in the colon Bleeding Incomplete procedure
How soon will I recover?
If you were given sedation, you will normally recover in about two hours. You may feel a bit bloated for a few hours but this will pass.
A member of the team will tell you what was found during the colonoscopy and will discuss with you any treatment or follow-up you need.
You should be able to go back to work the day after the colonoscopy.
A colonoscopy is usually a safe and effective way of finding out if you have a problem with your large bowel.
Paying for your procedure
Colnoscopy costs are covered by most medical insurance policies, but please check with your insurer first. If you are paying for your own treatment the cost of the procedure will be explained and confirmed in writing when you book the procedure. Ask the hospital for a quote beforehand, and ensure that this includes the surgeon’s fee, the anaesthetist’s fee and the hospital charge for your procedure.
Author: Mr Simon Parsons DM FRCS (Gen. Surg.)
Illustrations: Medical Illustration Copyright © 2007 Nucleus Medical Art. All rights reserved.
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