On this page, you can find information about a colonoscopy procedure. If you have further questions, please contact your consultant.

What is a colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is a procedure which allows for an examination of the colon (large bowel). A slim telescope is inserted into the back passage and used to check for any problems (see figure 1).

Figure 1 – colonoscopy

What happens during a colonoscopy?

You may be offered a sedative to help you to relax during the procedure. The colonoscopy should take around 30 to 45 minutes altogether. The consultant will insert a flexible telescope through the anus to examine your bowels and check for any inflamed areas. Some air may be blown through the tube to aid visibility. Occasionally, small growths called polyps might cause problems, this can be removed during the procedure. The consultant can also take a biopsy or some photographs to help for a diagnosis

Are there any other methods of examination?

As well as a colonoscopy, there are a couple of alternative methods to examine the colon. A barium enema x-rays of the large bowel whilst a CT colonography provides a scan.

Are there any potential complications?

Although unlikely, there is a risk of certain complications, including:

  • Damage to the colon
  • Bleeding
  • Vision going blurry
  • Infection
  • Not completing the procedure sufficiently
  • Irregularities of the heart
  • Breathing problems

Is there a long recovery process?

Not at all; most people can go home after the procedure and return to work the following day. However, if a sedative was administered it may take a few hours to feel clear-headed again. You may also feel a bit bloated after a colonoscopy but after a few hours this should fade away. Your healthcare team will discuss the results of the procedure with you before you leave.


A colonoscopy is an effective way of checking for any problems in the colon that could have an adverse effect on your health.

References: 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.

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If you would like any more information on a colonoscopy please call us on 0208 936 1201 or go to click here to find out more about our self-pay pricing.

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