Colonoscopy is a special camera test used to examine the large bowel (colon and rectum). It involves inserting a thin, four foot long flexible camera into the anus where it is steered around the bowel to the caecum (last part of the colon). During the examination it is possible to photograph the inside of the bowel, take tissue samples and remove polyps (abnormal outgrowths of tissue from the bowel lining). It is a very safe procedure  The main complications are a hole (perforation) in the bowel which although serious is fortunately rare (1 in 1000 chance), and bleeding (1 in 300 chance).

It is usually performed as a day case procedure. Before coming into hospital it will be necessary to follow a low fibre diet for a few days beforehand. The day before the test a strong laxative (picolax or movi-prep) will have been prescribed in order to clear out the bowel. A further laxative dose is taken on the morning of the test. The colonoscopy is performed under sedation using a short acting sedative and pain killer.  After the examination the specialist will be able to discuss the findings and arrange any further investigations or treatment that may be required.