This page will provide you with information about having a colonoscopy. For further details, please speak to your consultant.

What is a colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy might be recommended if your consultant wants to check for problems in the colon (large bowel). It is conducted using a flexible telescope which is inserted into the back passage so the endoscopist can check for anything which might be causing trouble (see Figure 1).

Figure 1 – Colonoscopy

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What are the alternatives to a colonoscopy?

As well as a colonoscopy, methods include a barium enema which provides an x-ray of the bowel, a CT colongraphy which scans the bowel, and a capsule endoscopy.

What will happen during a colonoscopy?

You may be offered a sedative, but will remain awake throughout. You can expect the procedure to take roughly 30 to 45 minutes.

You will lie on your side and the endoscopist will gently insert a flexible telescope called a colonoscope into your rectum. Air will be passed through the tube to aid visibility and a small camera on the end can examine the lining of the colon and look for any irregularities.

If any polyps (small growths) have developed and might be causing problems, the endoscopist can remove them. They can also perform biopsies (taking tissue samples) for testing and take photographs to help diagnosis.

Risks and complications

Any risks or complications will be discussed in advance of your treatment with your expert consultant.


Most patients can return home after a colonoscopy and are fine to go back to work the next day. Be aware that if you are given a sedative, it can take a few hours for this to wear off – make sure you do not drive until your reactions are back to normal.

The endoscopist will talk through your results and answer any further questions you may have after the procedure.


A colonoscopy is a method of examining the lining of the colon to check for any irregularities and help in making a diagnosis.



EIDO Healthcare Limited – The operation and treatment information on this website is produced using information from EIDO Healthcare Ltd and is licensed by Aspen Healthcare.

The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

Colonoscopy Consultants