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You might need a colonoscopy if:
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 bowel 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 363158.
Bowel polyps, colon polyps or rectal polyps are small growths on the inner lining of the colon (large bowel) or rectum. They’re not usually cancerous, although they will need to be removed as some will potentially turn into cancer if left untreated. The most common bowel polyp is a tubular adenoma, but there are many different types that can be diagnosed by a specialist.
Some people have just one colon polyp, others may have several. Bowel polyps occur more commonly in older people; with figures suggesting around a quarter of people over the age of 50 will develop at least one bowel polyp.
Smaller bowel polyps – most are usually less than 1cm in size - don’t usually cause symptoms and are usually discovered as a result of a bowel investigation such as a colonoscopy.
However, some polyps can grow up to several centimetres and can cause a small amount of bleeding from the back passage, or mucus when you open your bowels. Less frequently, bowel polyp symptoms may include abdominal pain, diarrhoea or constipation.
Bowel polyps or colon polyps are caused by an abnormal production of cells in the lining of the bowel. These extra cells then form a bump, which is the polyp.
Other causes are a family tendency towards developing bowel polyps or even bowel cancer, or a long term condition such as colitis or Crohn’s disease.
Bowel polyps are usually diagnosed when the bowel is being investigated for other reasons. Procedures such as a sigmoidoscopy, a colonoscopy or screening for bowel cancer may reveal the presence of bowel polyps.
If you’re diagnosed with a bowel polyp, a colon polyp or rectal polyp - even if you have no symptoms - you’ll probably be advised to have it removed. This is to avoid the very small risk of it developing into a cancer in the future.
Bowel polyps can be treated quickly and painlessly by removal, either during a colonoscopy using a tool such as biopsy forceps or, on rare occasions, they may need to be treated by surgically removing part of the bowel.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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