A colonoscopy is an outpatient procedure that examines your large bowel for changes or abnormalities such as colon polyps and bowel cancer.
What is colonoscopy?
Colonoscopy is an internal examination of your lower large intestine including your rectum and colon. It is performed for bowel cancer screening, to check for and remove colon polyps if you've had polyps before, and to investigate bowel symptoms.
During a colonoscopy, a long, thin, flexible tube with a video camera and light source on one end, called a colonoscope, is inserted through your anus and passed into your colon and rectum to allow your doctor to see inside. No cuts are required as the colonoscope passes through the natural opening of your anus. Air is pumped into your bowel through the colonoscope to lightly inflate it so your surgeon has a better view of your bowel.
Your doctor may insert tiny instruments through the colonoscope to take a tissue biopsy or to remove polyps or other abnormal tissue.
What can a colonoscopy detect?
A colonoscopy can detect and monitor bowel conditions including bowel cancer, Crohn's disease, diverticular disease and diverticulitis, and ulcerative colitis.
You may be invited for a colonoscopy as part of your bowel cancer screening to help identify any signs of bowel cancer at an early stage when it is easier to treat.
A colonoscopy may detect small growths on the inner lining of your colon or rectum, called colon polyps. These polyps do not usually turn into cancer but they may be precancerous and could eventually become cancerous. If colon polyps are found during a colonoscopy, they are removed and the tissue is sent for laboratory analysis to determine if the polyp is cancerous.
Your doctor may recommend a colonoscopy to investigate bowel symptoms including:
- bleeding from your rectum
- blood, pus or mucus in your stools
- unexplained abdominal pain
- changes in your bowel habits such as long-lasting constipation and diarrhoea
- losing weight or feeling really tired for no reason
What bowel preparation is needed for a colonoscopy?
Your bowel needs to be completely empty for a colonoscopy so that your doctor can clearly see everything inside your bowel. You will have a strong laxative before your colonoscopy.
You will also receive advice about what you can eat or drink before the procedure. This can vary between hospitals so please follow the instructions you are given. Some hospitals ask you to eat only low-fibre foods whilst others tell you to fast for at least a day beforehand. You must keep drinking clear liquids to avoid dehydration.
What is the recovery process after a colonoscopy procedure?
You can expect to go home a couple of hours after your colonoscopy test. Most patients have a sedative when having a colonoscopy that can make you feel drowsy for a while afterwards, so you will need someone to drive you home and to stay with you overnight until its effects have worn off.
You may feel bloated and have some stomach cramping for a few hours after your colonoscopy. You can take over-the-counter pain relief such as paracetamol or ibuprofen.
If you have had a biopsy or polyp removed, you may bleed a little from your back passage for a couple of days.
What is the cost of a colonoscopy procedure?
The cost of a colonoscopy procedure will depend on your chosen Ramsay hospital.
This is a guide package price that estimates the costs of your surgery. You will receive a formal quotation price following your consultation with one of our expert surgeons. This formal quote for your colonoscopy procedure will be valid for 60 days and includes unlimited aftercare.
We have a number of finance options if you are paying for your colonoscopy yourself. These include:
- Interest-free finance - requires no deposit, offers the ability to pay in monthly instalments, and benefits from 0% interest
- All-inclusive Total Care - a single one-off payment at a pre-agreed price that delivers direct access to all the treatment you need for complete reassurance
- Pay as you go - a flexible funding option if your treatment costs are difficult to assess, that allows you to meet your treatment costs as and when they arise.
Colonoscopy surgery is covered by most medical insurance policies. We advise you to check with your insurance provider and obtain their written authorisation before starting your treatment.
Colonoscopy surgery at Ramsay Health Care
Our expert and experienced surgeons diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions that affect the bowel, and routinely perform colonoscopies.
We understand that having a colonoscope can be an anxious time. We offer convenient appointments without waiting, we guide you through the examination with full explanations about what is happening, and we have a fast turnaround of biopsy results to get your diagnosis or the all-clear swiftly.
Your safety is of paramount importance to us throughout your visit to our hospitals. We operate strict protocols to control and prevent infection. You will be advised of our latest procedures before you come into hospital. All of our colonoscopes are thoroughly disinfected with detergents and chemicals to kill any bacteria and viruses.