Lower gastrointestinal endoscopy

A Colonoscopy looks at the whole of the large bowel and a Sigmoidoscopy looks at the lower part of the large bowel.

Colonoscopy/Sigmoidoscopy is recommended for change in bowel habits, blood in the stool, unexplained anaemia and as a screening test for colon cancer.


There are specific instructions which you are required to follow depending on which procedure is being carried out. A doctor or nurse will provide these instructions in advance of your appointment at the outpatient clinic. Otherwise, it may be necessary to arrange for you to attend for an assessment and to collect your bowel preparation prior to the test.

You must ensure that you have someone to collect you and stay with you following the procedure.

What will happen during the test?

You will be placed in a comfortable position on your left side and may be given medication by injection to make you sleepy and relaxed. You will be given the choice of sedation, no sedation or Endonox. The endoscopist will then pass the colonoscope through the anus into the rectum and advance it through the colon. You may experience some abdominal cramping and pressure from the air which is introduced into your colon. This is normal, and will pass quickly. You may also be asked to change position during the examination and will be assisted by a nurse who will be with you at all times. The examination takes 15-45 minutes.

After the test

You will be supervised while you rest in the recovery unit for up to one hour, until the main effects of any medication wear off. It is important that you don’t drive after the procedure to ensure that you get home safely, as the sedation impairs reflexes and judgment. Rest for the remainder of the day.  If you opted for sedation during the procedure you cannot drive for 24 hours.

When will I know the results?

In many cases the doctor/nurse will be able to tell you the results of the test as soon as you are awake. However if a biopsy sample or polyp was removed for closer examination, these results may take up to ten days to process.

A full range of other diagnostic and therapeutic endoscopy services are available in the Trust.

These include:

ERCP – A test that visualises bile ducts, pancreatic ducts and the gall bladder.  ERCP at Causeway Hospital.
Bronchoscopy – This procedure uses a very fine scope called a bronchoscope and allows the doctor to look at breathing tubes.
Cystoscopy – This uses a fine scope called a cystoscope and looks at the bladder.  Cystoscopy

There are four units, which provide endoscopic services in the Trust.


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