What is it?
A colonoscopy is a procedure in which the inside of the large intestine (colon and rectum) is examined. A colonoscopy is commonly used to evaluate gastrointestinal symptoms, such as rectal and intestinal bleeding, or changes in bowel habits. The procedure is painless and most patients aren’t even aware it’s taken place. After a colonoscopy, you may feel some discomfort (gas pains) from having air inserted into your colon. Colonoscopy should take about 30 minutes: 12 minutes to get the scope in 5 or 6 feet, and 12 minutes or so to take it out. Then if polyps need to be removed it will take longer, depending on the number and the size of the polyps.
Who is it for?
One of the reasons for having a colonoscopy is to diagnose diseases of the colon and the rectum such as inflammatory bowel disease and more importantly malignancy. According to the centre for disease control and prevention, any person at the age of 50 should have a screening colonoscopy to prevent colo-rectal cancer. Go see your doctor if any of the signs underneath is present:
- A change in bowel habits
- Diarrhea, constipation, or feeling that the bowel does not empty completely
- Bright red or very dark blood in the stool
- Stools that look narrower or thinner than normal
- Discomfort in the abdomen, including frequent gas pains, bloating, fullness,
- and cramps
- Weight loss with no known explanation
- Constant tiredness or fatigue
- Unexplained iron-deficiency anemia, which is a low number of red blood cells
After a colonoscopy, most people are back to work and “normal life” within 24 hours, or after the sedation wears off. It is recommended to refrain from flying for 48 hours after the procedure.
Some of the complications that can occur during a colonoscopy include perforation (a hole in the intestine), bleeding, post polypectomy syndrome , reaction to anaesthetic, and infection.
Call your doctor right away if you have any of these symptoms after your screening:
- Severe pain or cramping in the abdomen
- A hard belly
- You can’t pass any gas or stool
- Frequent or severe bloody bowel movements
- Severe or on-going bleeding from your anus
What is it?
A gastroscopy is a procedure where a thin, flexible tube called an endoscope is used to look inside the oesophagus (gullet), stomach and first part of the small intestine (duodenum).
It’s also sometimes referred to as an upper gastrointestinal endoscopy.
The endoscope has a light and a camera at one end. The camera sends images of the inside of your oesophagus, stomach and duodenum to a monitor.
A gastroscopy often takes less than 15 minutes, although it may take longer if it’s being used to treat a condition.
It’s usually carried out as an outpatient procedure, which means you won’t have to spend the night in hospital.
Before the procedure, your throat will be numbed with a local anaesthetic spray. You can also choose to have a sedative, if you prefer. This means you will still be awake, but will be drowsy and have reduced awareness about what’s happening.
The doctor carrying out the procedure will place the endoscope in the back of your mouth and ask you to swallow the first part of the tube. It will then be guided down your oesophagus and into your stomach.
The procedure shouldn’t be painful, but it may be unpleasant or uncomfortable at times.
Who is it for?
A gastroscopy can be used to:
- investigate problems such as difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) or persistent abdominal (tummy) pain
- diagnose conditions such as stomach ulcers or gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD)
- treat conditions such as bleeding ulcers, a blockage in the oesophagus, non-cancerous growths (polyps) or small cancerous tumours
A gastroscopy used to check symptoms or confirm a diagnosis is known as a diagnostic gastroscopy. A gastroscopy used to treat a condition is known as a therapeutic gastroscopy.
The procedure takes about 15 to 30 minutes. After the test you will be transferred to a recovery room and a nurse will care for you until you are awake. You can usually go home after about 2 hours.
A gastroscopy is a very safe procedure, but like all medical procedures it does carry a risk of complications.
Possible complications that can occur include:
- a reaction to the sedative, which can cause problems with your breathing, heart rate and blood pressure
- internal bleeding
- tearing (perforation) of the lining of your oesophagus, stomach or duodenum