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What is a Colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is a procedure that allows your consultant to see the lining of your colon (large intestine or bowel). A soft, flexible tube (a colonoscope), which is about the width of an index finger, will be gently inserted into the anus and passed into the rectum and the colon. A light sensitive chip is built into the end of the colonoscope. This will allow your consultant to view images of your bowel on a video monitor.
Within our purpose-built facilities at OneWelbeck Digestive Health, all colonoscopies are performed using the latest medical technology, which has been hand-selected by our leading gastroenterology specialists.
Our doctors are specialists in diagnostic and screening colonoscopy, and advanced polypectomy. They have a combined expertise of performing over 100,000 colonoscopies with excellent safety, comfort and polyp detection statistics. Polyps are small growths inside the colon. Removal of these polyps is called a polypectomy. In most cases, you will receive your colonoscopy diagnosis and return home the same day, without admission into hospital.
Your procedure will be carried out in private, comfortable surroundings, with dedicated nursing care to suit your personal needs.
As a patient at OneWelbeck, you will receive a personal consultation before the colonoscopy procedure. Your consultant will explain what the test involves, how to prepare for it, and answer any questions you may have.
Why is a Colonoscopy performed?
A colonoscopy is a valuable tool to help diagnose and treat many different conditions. These include inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) – such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis – colonic polyps and bowel cancer (also called colon cancer). A colonoscopy can be used as a routine screening test in people aged 45 years and older (with no symptoms) to prevent the development of bowel cancer.
Colonic polyps (bowel polyps) on the inner lining of the colon may become cancerous. Doctors can use a colonoscopy to detect and remove these polyps from the colon by performing a polypectomy.
During a colonoscopy, your consultant may also take tissue samples for a colonoscopy biopsy.
Some of the most common reasons to perform a colonoscopy are to:
- Investigate changes in bowel habits or rectal bleeding
- Assess patients with known polyps or previous polyp removal
- Evaluate patients with IBD
- Remove polyps or investigate abnormalities found on other imaging tests
- Screen for bowel cancer
What are the alternatives?
Double contrast barium enema is an X-ray of the large bowel taken after a chalky mixture of powdered barium with water and air is introduced through the anus into the large bowel. A bowel cleansing preparation is required to empty the large bowel, similar to the ones used for a colonoscopy. This test almost examines the whole of the large bowel but can miss small polyps. If polyps are found during this test, then a colonoscopy will need to be carried out later to find the polyp and remove it.
Computed Tomography (CT) virtual colonoscopy, also known as CT pneumocolon, is an investigation that involves using a CT scan to create detailed pictures of the large bowel in ‘slice sections’. A small tube will be inserted into your back passage and air will be blown to inflate and stretch the large bowel. CT images of the large bowel will be taken with the patient lying on the back and on the tummy during the scan. Although this test provides detailed images of the large bowel, it can still miss small polyps. A colonoscopy will need to be carried out later if polyps were found on this test.
What does the procedure involve?
During a colonoscopy, you will be lying on your side or your back. You may be given a sedative to help you relax, as well as an analgesic to reduce any pain. After putting the colonoscope into your bowel, your consultant will gently pump some carbon dioxide gas or water inside. This opens the large bowel so they can see the lining of your bowel clearly. The colonoscopy procedure, the biopsy and the removal of polyps should be painless.
A colonoscopy usually takes 15 to 30 minutes; however, the whole appointment may take around two hours. This time will allow you to prepare and recover from the procedure in private, comfortable surroundings at the specialist gastrointestinal unit at OneWelbeck.
What is bowel prep?
Cleansing the colon before a colonoscopy is called bowel preparation or a ‘bowel prep’. A bowel prep will usually include the use of a strong laxative to completely empty your colon of stool. This will help to produce more reliable colonoscopy results. So, it is important that you follow the specific bowel prep instructions that will be provided to you in a personalised kit before the procedure.
These instructions will include information about:
- When to start fasting before the procedure
- Eating a low-fibre diet a couple of days before the procedure, known as a ‘whole food diet’
- A clear-liquid diet on the day before and the day of the colonoscopy
- The use of a laxative to take the night before your appointment
- In some cases, the use of an enema to flush out your colon on the day of the procedure
Before this gastrointestinal procedure, tell your doctor about any medications you’re taking, including over-the-counter drugs or supplements. These might include blood thinners, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, vitamins that contain iron, and certain diabetes medications. Your doctor may advise you to stop taking them. Also, tell your doctor if you have a pacemaker.
Recovering from a Colonoscopy
Like any medical procedure, you may experience some unwanted side effects after having the colonoscopy. These are usually temporary. You may have some mild cramping or bloating from the gas that was placed into the colon. You may also have some bleeding from your back passage if you have had biopsies or polyps removed.
Most people do not have any colonoscopy complications after the procedure but contact your specialist gastrointestinal doctor at OneWelbeck straight away if you have:
- Severe abdominal pain
- Fevers or chills
- Rectal bleeding of more than one-half cup
Rectal bleeding can occur up to several days after a colonoscopy.
If you were given a sedative, this will affect your reflexes for the rest of the day. So, it is important that you arrange to have someone to drive you home after the procedure. Do not drive or operate machinery until the next day.
Because the colonoscopy is performed as a same day procedure at OneWelbeck, you will not need to stay in the hospital overnight. You consultant will explain the results to you after your procedure and they may give you a date for a follow-up appointment.
Your step by step guide to having a colonoscopy at OneWelbeck Digestive Health
Frequently Asked Questions
OneWelbeck patients will be offered the use of the MyRecovery smartphone app. This doctor-designed app acts as a mobile patient companion to guide you through the steps to prepare for the colonoscopy and prevent and delays to your care.
The app will use two methods to provide you with a seamless colonoscopy experience by offering you the right information at the right time through:
- Video messages from your consultant and clinical team
- Pre-procedure checklists that are visible to you and your clinical team
Timed alerts will appear on the MyRecovery phone app to remind you about the next step in your bowel prep. The app will also explain the procedure, give tips and provide pictures of bowel preparation quality.
To ask a question about private colonoscopy procedures at OneWelbeck or to book an appointment, contact our team today.
We are available from Monday to Friday: 8am – 8pm.