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Colonoscopy Patient Information | LivingCare Medical Services


A colonoscopy can help your doctor to find out the cause of symptoms such as persistent diarrhoea or a change in your bowel habits. If you have bleeding or mucus coming from your back passage, it can look for problems that could be causing this. Or it may be used to find out more if you have unexplained pain in your abdomen (tummy) or feel tired and breathless.

Are there any alternatives?

A colonoscopy is usually the best investigation to show the inside of your bowel. However, it isn’t appropriate for everyone. If you can’t have a colonoscopy, your doctor may suggest other tests. The main alternatives are described below.

  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy. This is a similar procedure to a colonoscopy but it uses a shorter instrument to look inside your rectum and the lower part of your large bowel.

Your appointment at LivingCare.

In order for the Endoscopist to have a clear view of the bowel it is essential that the bowel is completely empty.

There are different oral bowel preparations used to clear the bowel, full instructions will be given to you. If these instructions are not followed your test may be unsuccessful.

You must keep taking any essential prescribed tablets. If you are diabetic or take any anticoagulants (blood thinning tablets) you must contact us on 0113 249 4655.

Colonoscopies are carried out under sedation, which makes you feel relaxed and sleepy. You will be asked to lie on the couch on your left side. Oxygen will be given through a mask placed over your mouth and nose throughout the procedure and a small probe placed onto your finger to monitor your pulse. A small needle will be placed into the back of your hand, through which the sedative injection is put. This is not general anaesthetic.

It is important to bring someone with you, and although they do not accompany you into the procedure room, they will be needed to escort you home. The person escorting you also needs to be able to take you home, where you will also need someone with you for the next 24 hours. Although you may feel fine after the procedure, the sedatives used can remain in your bloodstream for up to 24 hours.


It is important that both you and your escort note that you should not do any of the following for 24 hours:

  • Drive a vehicle
  • Operate machinery
  • Drink any alcohol
  • Sign any legal documents
  • Look after children unsupervised

When you arrive at the hospital reception, your name, address and details will be checked. Next you will be seen by a Nurse who will take a brief medical history, record your blood pressure and pulse, discuss and explain the test and allow you time for you to express any worries or questions you have about the test. A consent form will then be signed if you are all happy.

You will then be asked to change into a gown and dressing gown (if you wish to bring your own dressing gown and slippers you may do so). After the examination is completed you will be transferred to the recovery room and looked after by a nurse until you have recovered. Any discomfort will soon disappear and no medication is needed. 

A full report of your test will be sent to your GP. You will also receive a copy and we will discuss it with you. If there are any serious problems discovered during your colonoscopy they will be discussed with you before leaving.


Polyps are growths inside your bowel. They are quite common and usually don’t cause any problems. However, certain types of polyps can grow into cancers over time. If your doctor finds any polyps during your colonoscopy, he or she will probably remove them, or plan to remove them at a later date.


Polyps are small, fleshy lumps, usually less than 1cm in size, although they can be bigger. About 30 in every 100 people develop a polyp in their lifetime, most often when they are over 40. Men are slightly more likely to develop polyps than women.

Some polyps are attached to the side of your bowel on a stalk and look a bit like a mushroom. Others are flatter and have no stalk. You may have just one polyp, or several.

Most polyps never cause any problems. However, there is a small chance that over time a type of polyp known as an adenoma will grow into a cancer. Most bowel cancers are thought to start as a polyp. So if your doctor finds any during your colonoscopy, they will want to remove them.

Once your polyp is removed it doesn’t usually come back. But because you may develop new polyps, you may be advised to have regular colonoscopies. How often you have these will depend on how many polyps you have had and when a polyp was last found.


Your doctor will ask you to eat low-fibre foods for two days before your colonoscopy. The day before the procedure you will need to only drink clear liquids. This is to make sure your bowel is empty so that your doctor can see it clearly during the test.


A colonoscopy is a procedure that allows your doctor to look inside your large bowel. In order for your doctor to see it clearly, it needs to be completely empty. For this to happen you’ll need to change what you eat and drink in the days before your procedure.

Your doctor will ask you not to eat any high-fibre foods for two days before your colonoscopy. High-fibre foods include most fruit and vegetables, wholemeal bread and pasta, brown rice, pulses and nuts. Instead, stick to low-fibre foods such as lean meat, fish, boiled potatoes without the skin on and white bread, pasta and rice. You’ll also need to drink clear fluids only. This means fluids such as water, squash, clear soup, meat extract drinks, tea and coffee (without milk).

The day before your colonoscopy you will need to stop eating solid foods and have only clear fluids.

You will receive full instructions from your hospital before your colonoscopy appointment. It’s important to follow these carefully.



Bowel cancer screening aims to find cancer when it’s in the early stages. If blood is found in your faeces during screening, you may be offered a colonoscopy to look at the inside of your bowel.


If bowel cancer is found early, treatment is more likely to be effective. Screening is offered to everybody between 60 and 69 in England and this age range is currently being extended to 74. The age range differs slightly in other parts of the UK.

If you’re eligible for screening, you will be offered a test every two years.

Everyone is offered a test called faecal occult blood (FOB) testing. This checks for blood in your faeces (one of the possible signs of bowel cancer). You’ll be sent a testing kit and instructions on how to take a sample of faeces. You send this to a laboratory and should usually get the results back within two weeks.

Out of every 100 people who do the test, about 98 have a normal result. If you have an unclear or abnormal result, blood may have been found in your faeces. You’ll be offered more tests to find out what is causing this and one of these is a colonoscopy. Remember you may have blood in your faeces because of conditions other than cancer.

In addition to standard screening, people in some parts of the country are now being offered bowel scope screening. You have this, only once, at the age of 55. This test, called a flexible sigmoidoscopy, is quicker than a colonoscopy. It only examines the last part of your large bowel rather than all of it.

If you would like more information about bowel cancer screening, contact your GP or nurse.