Endoscopy is a procedure that allows the surgeon to examine the inside of your gastrointestinal tract or bowel.
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Gastroscopy is an endoscopic investigation where the oesophagus, stomach and duodenum are examined with a flexible fibreoptic instrument which is passed via the mouth. Intravenous sedation is required, and an anaesthetist will administer this.

The examination is not painful, but there may be some soreness of the throat following it. It is possible that biopsies (small specimens taken from the lining of the stomach) may be taken to help in making a diagnosis.


Things To Know:

  • Do not eat or drink anything for 6 hours before the examination.
  • Take all your usual tablets (with a sip of water).
  • Because of the sedation given, on the same day of the test, it is very important that you do not:
  • Drive a car
  • Travel on public transport alone
  • Operate machinery
  • Sign legal documents


What Is Colonoscopy?

Colonoscopy is an invasive procedure which enables the lining of the large bowel to be examined. Unlike x-rays which take photographs, colonoscopy allows direct visual examination of the interior of the bowel and, in most instances, can provide substantially more detail and accuracy than an x-ray. The procedure is performed with the patient asleep under the care of a specialist anaesthetist and may take in the order of 30 minutes.

Sometimes small samples (biopsies) are removed from the lining of the bowel so that they can be examined under a microscope to determine if there is any abnormality or pathology. In addition, if early growths called polyps are present in the bowel, they will usually be removed at the time of colonoscopy. If this is not done there is a possibility the polyps can develop into bowel cancer. It is possible that removal of a polyp could be necessary at any colonoscopy as the need to do so cannot always be predicted.


What About My Normal Medication?

You should have your normal medications at the normal time on the day of the examination. Iron and aspirin should not be taken for 4 days prior to the procedure. The effect of the oral contraceptive pill may be lost because of the bowel preparation and colonoscopy and alternative contraception should be used for 10 days.

If you are on blood thinning drugs then they will need to cease prior to the procedure. This should be discussed with the endoscopist.

This list is an example of some of the medications need to be ceased well before your colonoscopy:

  • Aspirin (Astrix, Cartia, Disprin, Solprin)
  • Warfarin (Coumadin, Marevan)
  • Clopidogrel (Iscover, Plavix)
  • Some naturopathy medications (Glikobiolba, garlic, St John’s Wort)

In some instances they need to be ceased up to 2 weeks prior to and should not be recommended for up to 2 weeks after a polypectomy procedure.

Are There Complications?

The risk of complications from colonoscopy is small and is approximately 1:2000. The type of problem which can occur may include bleeding and/or damage from or to the wall of the bowel with or without polypectomy. It is possible that such a complication could require surgical treatment.

If you are intending travelling outside Australia within 2 weeks of a colonoscopy, which could involve a polypectomy or having elastic band ligation of haemorrhoids, then it should be done no closer than 2 weeks prior to departure because of the small chance of late bleeding.


How Do I Prepare Myself For Colonoscopy?

For a successful colonoscopy, it is important that the bowel be thoroughly clean so that the lining is clearly seen. If you are not honest with yourself and do not follow preparation guidelines your bowel may not be totally clean, the colonoscopy would have to be postponed and the preparation would have to be repeated. The preparations available are:

What Kind Of Liquids Am I Allowed To Have While I Am Undergoing Bowel Preparation?

These are the clear liquids that can be taken during preparation for colonoscopy:

  • Water
  • Bonox
  • Clear broth / boullion
  • Clear fruit juices
  • Plain jelly (not red or purple)
  • Black tea or coffee (no milk)
  • Sports drinks (not red or purple)
  • Clear fruit cordials (no red or purple)Clear salty fluids (chicken soup)
  • Lucozade