Colonoscopies are offered as standard as part of the national bowel cancer screening programme in England. Bowel cancer screening is provided every two years to everyone over the age of 60 in England. Beyond this, you may need one due to your own personal health circumstances at any age. A colonoscopy may be carried out because:
- You have symptoms which could indicate bowel cancer such as blood in your stools or a change in your bowel habits such as constipation or diarrhoea.
- You have a family history of bowel cancer
- You have symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease which need examining and investigating more closely
- To monitor your bowel after polypectomy or cancer removal
There may be other symptoms which lead to the need for a colonoscopy to help to find the right treatment or diagnose a more specific condition.
What happens during a Colonoscopy?
The colonoscopy procedure takes around 45 minutes and is not carried out under anaesthetic usually. It can be uncomfortable so you may be able to opt for a local anaesthetic, a painkiller or sedative. Once comfortable, the endoscopist will insert the colonoscope into the rectum and into the bowel. Air is then pumped into the colonoscope so the bowel can be seen more clearly.
The colonoscope incorporates a small light and camera which allow the doctor to provide images of the inside of the bowel which are displayed on a nearby monitor. This helps the doctor to look at different areas of your bowel and they may need to take biopsies or remove growths such as polyps during the procedure. Colonoscopies can be planned to simply explore what may be the cause of symptoms, as well as take samples to further investigate.
Recovery and Aftercare
Once the procedure is complete you may need a little time to recover depending on whether you’ve opted for sedation or anaesthesia. Most patients can go home the same day and any immediate concerns or discoveries made during the colonoscopy can be explained before you leave. Further results will need to wait until biopsies have been investigated in the laboratory and you should be told how long you must wait for these results before leaving.
The results of a colonoscopy can vary significantly but your doctor will explain everything carefully and help with a management plan whatever the results. In many instances benign polyps are simply removed while in some instances it can be a more serious but manageable condition such as Crohn’s disease or diverticulitis. A colonoscopy can also be used to diagnose bowel cancer and the right treatment can begin immediately.
Dr Rehan Haidry is a highly experienced endoscopist who performs colonoscopies regularly. To discuss any symptoms you’re experiencing, book an appointment today.
To make an enquiry or appointment please contact Dr Rehan Haidry's secretary