What is it?
A colonoscopy involves the passage of a long flexible tube with a camera at the tip to examine the large intestine, done under a sedation anaesthetic. Colonoscopy is recognised to be the most effective way to prevent bowel cancer, and many thousands of colonoscopies are done in Australia every year. Colonoscopy allows the doctor to find growths such as polyps on the bowel wall and remove these, so that the risk of developing bowel cancer in the future is significantly reduced.
Colonoscopy is also used to detect possible sources of bleeding from the bottom, to look for inflammation of the bowel (called ‘colitis’), to investigate low iron stores and in the investigation of many other conditions. A clean bowel is vital to ensuring a good quality test and detection of polyps, and it is very important to follow bowel preparation instructions carefully to get the best results.
How long does it take?
A colonoscopy generally takes around 30 minutes to complete. When you are fully awake, you will be given something to eat and drink, and then you can go home. Someone else must drive you home or go home with you in the taxi. You cannot drive yourself home as you are not able to drive after having an anaesthetic. Most patients can return to work, driving and normal activities on the following day.
When do I get the test results?
You will receive the preliminary results on the same day, but all polyps and other tissue samples will be sent for testing and may take up to one week for results.
For further information on colonoscopy, you can download an information sheet here: