Your GP may ask for a colonoscopy if he suspects a problem with your bowel. This may be blood in your stool, diarrhoea or constipation. For this test a colonoscope (a thin telescope) is inserted through the back passage and into the bowel.
Before the colonoscopy you are given a medicine to clean the bowel which is taken at home prior to the test. On arrival you are seen by a nurse who takes a history, blood pressure and pulse and a blood sugar if you are diabetic. The procedure is explained including any complications and if you are having sedation (medicine to relax you) and analgesia (pain relief) a small needle (cannula) is put into your arm or hand. You will put on a gown and dignity shorts and you can wear your own dressing gown and slippers.
The Endoscopist (doctor) will then speak to you about your symptoms and go over the test again. They will ask your consent to do the test and you will be asked to sign a consent form. You have an opportunity to ask questions so that you completely understand the procedure and can make an informed decision.
Once in the procedure room the nursing team will introduce themselves to you and will talk to you throughout explaining what is happening. You will have some oxygen through a little sponge in the nose and a peg on your finger to measure your oxygen levels if you are having sedation.
The whole procedure usually takes approximately twenty to forty minutes. If a polyp is found it may be removed or haemorrhoids may be banded, but this will be discussed when you consent for the procedure. A small tissue sample may be taken (biopsy) but this does not hurt.
Following the test you will spend some time in recovery where the nurse will monitor you and take some more observations. You will also be offered a drink and biscuits before you go home and the endoscopist will tell you the results.
Sometimes nothing is found at all and you will be given lifestyle advice. If you need further tests the consultant will explain this to you and arrange the tests from Eastwood or ask your GP to refer you.