Lower Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (Lower GI)

A lower gastrointestinal endoscopy test looks at the large bowel and can show what is wrong if you are having difficulties with changes in bowel habits, blood in the stool, unexplained anaemia.  It is also used as a screening test for colon cancer.

Types of lower gastrointestinal endoscopy tests

There are two types of lower gastrointestinal endoscopy tests:

  • A Colonoscopy which looks at the whole of the large bowel. This test takes 15-45 minutes.
  • A Flexible Sigmoidoscopy which looks at the left side of your large bowel. This test takes approximately 15 minutes.

If your GP has referred you with Lower GI symptoms, you will be seen by a consultant at an outpatient clinic within the Northern Trust.

If it has been agreed that you require a colonoscopy test, you will be asked to attend a pre-assessment clinic.  You will receive an appointment letter and information leaflet which will provide more details about how to prepare for the test.  The test will be carried out by an endoscopist who may be a gastroenterologist, surgeon or nurse specialist.

There are specific instructions which you are required to follow depending on which procedure is being carried out.

Preparing for a Colonoscopy Test

You will be pre-assessed and we will discuss any changes regarding your medication.  We will also give you medication to prepare your bowel for the test.

Preparing for a Flexible Sigmoidoscopy Test

On the day of you appointment you will be given an enema to prepare your bowel for the test.

It is important that you contact the endoscopy unit if you are taking any medication to thin the blood as changes in dosage may be required.  If you are on Warfarin, you may require a repeat INR.

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.

After the test

If you have had sedation, 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 for 24 hours after the procedure as sedation impairs reflexes and judgment.   Rest for the remainder of the day.

When will I know the results?

In many cases the endoscopist will advise you of the results of the test.  However if a biopsy sample or polyp was removed for closer examination, these results may take up to ten days to process.

Results will be sent back to either your GP or referring consultant.


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