Colonoscopy

This is similar to a flexi-sig but examines the lining of the whole colon to the appendix or caecum. 

Full cleansing of the bowel is required,  which means taking a preparation the day before, which can be unpleasant.  No solid food is allowed until after the test. Your hospital will give you full details of what is involved.

Just before the test, a sedative is usually given and then a thin, flexible tube is passed into the back passage and guided around the bowel. If polyps are found, most can be removed painlessly, using a wire loop passed down the colonoscope tube. These tissue samples are then checked for any abnormal cells that might be cancerous. 

Because sedation is given, you will probably need to be collected and taken home. For much older patients, sometimes it is important to have someone with them for the first night after the examination. 

There is now an alternative to colonoscopy, which doesn’t need sedation although you will still need bowel cleansing. This is called CT colonography or virtual colonoscopy and is a form of X-ray which uses computers to build up an image of your bowel and all your other abdominal organs. If you are keen to avoid colonoscopy ask your doctor about this. Its' down-side is that if the CT shows you have a polyp you may still need a colonoscopy as well!

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