Information for patients from the Trust's Endoscopy Units

This information is for patients who are having an examination of their large bowel known as a colonoscopy. It explains what is involved and any significant risks that there may be.

If you do not attend your appointment without telling the Endoscopy Unit in advance you may be removed from the waiting list.

Students and trainees supervised by qualified staff may be involved in your care. If you do not want students and trainees to be present, please tell the endoscopist or nurse in charge. The time stated is your booking in time, so please tell those coming to hospital with you that this is not your procedure time.

The test itself takes 20 to 40 minutes, and may take longer if any polyps (projections of tissue rather like warts) are removed. Normally you will be able to go home about 45 to 60 minutes later. Occasionally, if there are emergency or very complex cases, the start of your procedure may be delayed and you may be in the hospital for up to four hours.

Diagram showing large colon/bowel and the rectum

What is a colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is an examination which allows the endoscopist to look directly at the lining of the large colon or bowel using a colonoscope. This is a flexible tube about the thickness of a woman’s index finger.

Sometimes a sample of the lining of the bowel (a biopsy) is taken for laboratory examination. If polyps are found, they can be removed during the examination.

How do I prepare for my examination?

For your examination to be successful and to allow a clear view of your colon, your bowel must be as empty as possible.

It is important to follow the advice given about bowel preparation.

What happens when I arrive at the hospital?

What does the examination involve?

What happens after my examination?

Going home

If you have had sedation:

If you did not have sedation the above restrictions do not apply to you.

Are there any significant risks?

This test is very safe, but there are some risks linked to this procedure.

Are there alternatives to a colonoscopy?

Yes, there is a CT pneumocolon and a barium enema. They both need the same kind of bowel preparation as a colonoscopy but they do not allow the removal of polyps or the taking of biopsies. This means that you would probably need a colonoscopy anyway.

Any further questions?

Please phone the Endoscopy Unit. The units are open Monday to Sunday 8am to 6pm.

If you have any questions between 6pm and 8am Monday to Sunday then contact the Emergency Department on:

Our units are regularly inspected and audited. Please ask if you want any information about our performance standards. You can also visit the Care Opinion web site.

A short film outlining what patients can expect when coming to hospital for an endoscopy is available on the East Kent Hospitals' YouTube channel.