Colonoscopy procedure

A colonoscopy is one of the procedures known as an endoscopy. It looks at the lining of your back passage (rectum) and large bowel (colon) using a long, flexible tube called a colonoscope. A private colonoscopy test can be done to check what's causing your bowel symptoms.

Why would I need a private colonoscopy procedure?

You might need a colonoscopy if:

  • You’ve had a change in bowel habits such as persistent diarrhoea or bleeding
  • You’re losing weight or feeling tired for no reason
  • They suspect an inflammatory bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease

A colonoscopy may also find something that needs a closer look or further testing, such as bowel cancer.

The colonoscope provides a more accurate picture than other diagnostic imaging, such as x-rays, as it allows the whole of the colon to be viewed directly and can pick up on small changes. It also makes it easier to take pictures of the lining, biopsy any part of the large bowel lining which may appear abnormal or remove any polyps without the need for an operation.

It’s easy to make a self-pay colonoscopy appointment by completing our online booking form or by calling our Private Patient Team on 01580 242521.

I have a question about the colonoscopy procedure

What happens before a colonoscopy procedure?

You’ll be given full instructions to prepare yourself by the team looking after you. Our trained staff are here to help, so it’s important at this stage to discuss any concerns or ask any questions you may have.

On the day of your colonoscopy test, your bowel will need to be completely empty so that your Consultant can see the lining of your bowel. You’ll need to follow a special diet for a few days before the colonoscopy procedure and will be asked not to eat any solids on the day before your examination. You’ll also be given a laxative which will come with detailed instructions on how and when to take it.

Your Consultant will tell you whether you need to stop taking any medications such as warfarin or ibuprofen beforehand, as these may cause complications during the procedure. You'll also be told to stop taking iron tablets if you do so, as these make the inside of your bowel black, which makes it harder for your Consultant to clearly see inside the bowel.

When you arrive for your colonoscopy, you’ll be asked to change into a hospital gown. If you’re being sedated for your colonoscopy, a cannula will be placed in the back of your hand, which is where the sedative is administered. A sedative will make you feel a little drowsy and will also help you feel more relaxed during the procedure. You may also receive a painkiller to help you feel more comfortable too.

What happens during a colonoscopy procedure?

A colonoscopy is a relatively quick procedure and usually takes around 30 to 45 minutes to complete.

You’ll be asked to lie on your left side, a rectal examination is performed prior to the colonoscope being inserted.  Your Consultant will then gently insert the colonoscope into your anus before slightly inflating your bowel with CO2 gas in order to see the inside lining easier.

The colonoscope is made of flexible fibres which enable it to be moved easily through your bowel. It has a small light and a camera on the end of it which relays images back to a monitor. You may also have samples taken from some parts of the inside of the lining of the colon which will be sent off for testing. If your Consultant finds any polyps in your colon, these may be removed too.

Is the colonoscope sterile?

The colonoscope will have been thoroughly disinfected with detergents and chemicals before being used, to kill any bacteria, viruses or fungi. Our on-site Sterile Services Department washes, disinfects, packs and sterilises reusable instruments for all the departments within the hospital. It adheres to strict guidelines from the Department of Health and is regulated by the Care Quality Commission. Visit Infection prevention and control for more information.

What should I expect after a colonoscopy test?

You should be able to leave within an hour after your procedure, or when the effects of the sedative have worn off. If you’re having sedation for your colonoscopy, you must arrange for someone to collect you after your procedure as you won’t be able to drive or work for a minimum of 24 hours.

Before you go, your Consultant may talk to you about how the colonoscopy procedure went. You will be given a copy of the colonoscopy test report if it’s available by the time you leave and a follow up appointment will be arranged, if required.

You may feel bloated and have some cramping pain after a colonoscopy. This is caused by the gas used during the procedure and usually settles down within a few hours. If you feel that you need pain relief, over the counter medicines such as paracetamol or ibuprofen can be taken.

How much does a private colonoscopy cost?

Find out the cost of a diagnostic colonoscopy in Kent from the endoscopy section of our Pricing page. For more information about private colonoscopy costs, or to book your treatment, contact our Private Patient Team on 01580 363158 or complete our online form.

Contact us

It’s easy to make an appointment; you can ask your GP or give us a call on 01580 230661.