A colonoscopy is an internal examination of the colon (large intestine) and rectum Using an instrument called a colonoscope.

While the process may seem scary it is actually a lot easier than you might think.

The colonoscope has a small camera attached to a flexible tube. Unlike sigmoidoscopy, which can only reach the lower third of the colon, colonoscopy can examine the entire length of the colon.

You will lie on your left side with your knees drawn up toward your chest. After you have received a sedative and pain reliever, the colonoscope is inserted through the anus. It is gently moved into the beginning of the large bowel and sometimes into the lowest part of the small intestine.

Air will be inserted through the scope to provide a better view. Suction may be used to remove fluid or stool.

A better view is obtainable as the colonoscope is removed and a more detailed examination will be done while the scope is being pulled out.

Tissue samples may also be taken with tiny biopsy forceps inserted through the scope and Polyps can also be removed and photographs taken through the scope.

Prepareing for the Test

You will need to completely cleanse your intestines. Your Consultant will give you instructions for doing this and may include a combination of enemas, not eating solid foods for 2 or 3 days before the test, and taking laxatives.

You will usually be told to stop taking aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, or other blood-thinning medications for several days before the test and asked to drink plenty of clear liquids for 1 – 3 days before the test.

Some examples of clear liquids are:

  • Coffee or tea
  • Broth
  • Water
  • Sports drinks
  • Strained fruit juices

Unless you are told otherwise continue taking any regularly prescribed medication.

You should stop taking iron medications a few weeks before the test, unless your consultant tells you otherwise. Iron can produce a dark black stool, which makes the view inside the bowel less clear.

If you go for the test as an Outpatient plan to have someone to take them home after the test, because you will be a little woozy and should not drive.