Colonoscopy and Flexi-sig

A colonoscopy is a complete examination of the entire colon (large bowel) with a flexible camera. This is a standard hospital procedure and is the investigation of choice for patients with bowel symptoms as it allows direct inspection of the bowel, biopsy to be taken and any therapeutic procedure such as removing a polyp to be done at the time of the colonoscopy. Cleansing the bowel is of paramount importance for an optimal examination. Typically a patient takes the bowel-cleansing agent on the day before the procedure. Certain medications such as warfarin, clopidogrel or iron tablets may need to be stopped days before the examination.   

Colonoscopy is a day case procedure and light sedation is offered as standard and takes about 30 minutes to complete. It is generally a safe and easily tolerated procedure. Some patients may experience more discomfort than others due to sharp corners and long loops in the bowel. More serious complications such as causing a tear in the bowel wall (perforation) or significant bleeding are uncommon in standard diagnostic procedures. Taking biopsies from the bowel is a painless procedure.

One of the advantages of a colonoscopy is our ability to detect and remove polyps- which are benign wart-like growths in the bowel. Polyps may be pre-cancerous and removing them reduces the likelihood of developing bowel cancer.

Sometimes, your doctor may only wish to examine the tail end of the colon with a flexible sigmoidoscopy, which is essentially a short version of a colonoscopy. Generally speaking, neither oral bowel cleansing nor intravenous sedation is required. The bowel is cleaned with an enema given on arrival at the hospital and the examination generally takes five to ten minutes to complete.