What is a Colonoscopy?

A Colonoscopy is a test that allows a Doctor to look directly at the whole of the large bowel (colon). In order to do this, a flexible tube (the thickness of a finger) with a light on the end of it is carefully passed through the anus into the rectum and large bowel. This can be briefly uncomfortable as bends in the colon are negotiated.

To allow a clear view, your bowel needs to be completely empty and that is why it is important to follow our instructions and diet sheet carefully.

The Doctor will give you an injection in your arm to make you drowsy and relaxed. A Nurse will be with you throughout the test pictures and samples (known as biopsies) may be taken and sometimes, small fleshy knobs on the lining of the bowel, which are known as polyps, can be removed.

The alternative to a colonoscopy is a barium enema, a type of X-ray that does not include treatment or provide biopsies.

What to expect during the test

In some cases an enema may also be given prior to examination.

After the test

You will be allowed to rest for approximately one hour and given biscuits and a soft drink of your choice. When the effects of the injection have worn off arrangements will be made for you to return home. Any information will be given to you in writing.

Because of the sedative you have had, it is essential that someone collects you to take you home. The effects of the sedative can last longer than you think so you should not drive, drink alcohol, operate machinery or sign legal documents for the rest of the day.


Having a gastroscopy

This information may not answer all your questions so if have any worries please speak to the Nurses who will be happy to help you.

What is a gastroscopy?

A gastroscopy is an examination of the lining of the oesophagus (gullet), stomach and duodenum (first part of your upper bowel) using a flexible instrument – an endoscope – that is passed through your mouth. The endoscope is about the width of your little finger and has a light and a miniature camera at the tip. Small samples of the lining (biopsies) are sometimes taken through the endoscope.

What to expect

The test is simple and lasts about for around five minutes.

You will be lying on your left side and the Doctor may give you an injection to relax you if you are nervous. There is a slight risk (a one in 1,000 chance) of chest infection after the examination. Sore throat and bleeding can occur, though this is rare. An alternative would be an X-ray (barium meal) that gives less information and could lead to a gastroscopy and biopsies anyway for clarification.

Your treatment may provide an important opportunity for training. If this happens it will be under the careful supervision of a Senior Doctor. You may refuse to be examined by a trainee without this adversely affecting your care and treatment.

After the test

If you have not had sedation and biopsies, you will be able to leave immediately. If you’ve had sedation you will need to stay for at least one hour until you are sufficiently recovered. We prefer that you have a relative or friend to accompany you home. The result of the test will be given to you verbally and in writing.

If biopsy samples are taken the results may not be known for several days and will be sent to your Doctor or discussed with you in the hospital clinic. If other tests are to be arranged this may be discussed with you after the endoscopy.

The effects of sedation can be subtle and last longer than you think and you should not drive, drink alcohol, operate machinery or sign legal documents for 24 hours.

If you have abdominal pain, fever or difficulty breathing up to 48 hours after the procedure, you should contact your GP or the hospital.


Having a sigmoidoscopy

This information has been carefully prepared to explain about the procedure. It may not answer all your questions so if you do have any worries please do not hesitate to ask our staff.

What is a sigmoidoscopy?

A sigmoidoscopy is a test that allows the Doctor to look directly at the lower end of the large bowel (colon). In order to do the test a sigmoidoscope (flexible tube about the thickness of a finger with a light on end) is carefully passed though the anus into the large bowel.

What to expect

Your bowel needs to be empty to allow a clear view. To do this an enema will be given before the examination. An enema is a small amount of fluid placed in the rectum to help clear the bowel. There will be an empty toilet available.

The test lasts about five minutes and is carried out with you on your left side and your knees bent. You may get a sensation of wanting to go to the toilet but as the bowel is empty there is no danger of this happening. A Doctor and Nurse will be with you throughout the test.

After the test

After a short rest and a soft drink you can go home. You may feel a little bloated with wind pains but these usually settle quite quickly. A sigmoidoscopy is a very safe examination. The risk of complications – such as bleeding, perforation or infection – is less than one in 1,000 examinations. If you do experience bleeding or severe abdominal pain after the examination you should report back to the hospital or your GP. If you have been in contact with any infectious diseases, please contact the Gastroenterology Department as soon as possible on 01253 303708.

Having an ERCP (Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangio Pancreatography)

If you have any questions about the information below, please do not hesitate to ask the staff at the hospital. You should be as relaxed as possible and staff do not mind answering any queries.

What is an ERCP?

ERCP is a procedure that allows your Doctor to take detailed X-rays of the bile duct and/or pancreas, using a flexible tube with a bright light on the end. The Doctor will give you an injection in your arm to make you drowsy and feel relaxed for the test. A Nurse will be with you at all times.

What to expect?

After you arrive on the ward, the Doctor will be available to discuss your test in further detail. Blood tests, the signing of the consent form and any relevant X-rays will be taken and an overnight stay is required to enable a full preparation and recovery from the test. To allow a clear view, the stomach and duodenum must be empty which is why you are asked not to eat or drink before the test.