A long, flexible tube (scope) is slowly guided into your colon through your rectum. You are given medication to keep you from feeling much discomfort. The scope sends a picture of the inside of your colon to a video screen.
A doctor examines the lining of the colon and can remove polyps using tiny tools passed through the scope. For most people, a colonoscopy is a straightforward procedure. However, on rare occasions (1/1000), some people may have bleeding or other complications such as a perforation (tear) that may require a hospital stay.
Sometimes a colonoscopy has to be repeated. This will be arranged for you. The specialist will follow up with you for anything abnormal in your colon. If everything is normal, the program will send you a letter and then re-invite you in 10 years.
The program nurse will arrange to book a colonoscopy in one of the regional hospital closest to your home. The procedure is done in an outpatient clinic by a specialist qualified to perform it. Instructions will be sent to you as to how to prepare for a colonoscopy.
In order for the specialist to see the lining of your colon clearly, your colon must be empty. You will need to take a powerful laxative to clean the colon the day before and the day of the procedure. You will have to buy the laxative at a pharmacy and the program nurse will explain to you how to take it. Also, you won’t be able to eat solid food the day before the procedure but you will be able to drink clear liquids.
• Expect to be at the hospital for two to three hours. The actual procedure usually lasts 20 to 45 minutes.
• Bring a list of your current medications.
• You will be closely monitored before, during and after the procedure.
• The doctor will give you the results of the procedure and tell you if you need to be seen again.
- If the colonoscopy was normal or negative, you will be re-invited to the screening program in 10 years with a FIT.
- If the doctor removed polyps, he/she will give you the results of the pathology when they are available (usually within two-three weeks) and discuss whether you should return to the screening program or need to be followed-up with different tests.
• Have an adult accompany you home. You cannot drive until the following day.
• You may be sleepy after you arrive home from the procedure. It is recommended that you do not operate equipment, sign legal papers or drink alcohol until the following day.
• You will be able to resume your regular diet and medications after your colonoscopy, unless otherwise directed by your specialist.
• The air inside your colon may cause you to feel bloated and/or have cramping during and after the procedure. It is important to relax and pass the air as soon as possible. If this discomfort increases or is unrelieved, go to the emergency department and advise them that you had a colonoscopy.