ColonoscopyWhat happens on the day

On the day of your colonoscopy you'll need to stop eating and drinking – your letter will tell you when to stop.

You should also bring any medicines you take with you.

When you arrive

You'll speak with a nurse about what's going to happen. They will ask you to change into a hospital gown.

You may be offered things to make you more comfortable and make the test easier, such as:

  • painkillers
  • sedation – medicine given through a small tube in your arm to help you relax
  • gas and air – you breathe this in to help you relax

Not all hospitals offer all these things – ask about what you can have.

Important

You cannot drive for 24 hours if you have sedation. Someone will need to pick you up from hospital in a car or taxi.

Giving consent

A nurse or specialist will explain possible risks.

In rare cases, people may:

  • have a reaction to the sedation
  • have some bleeding afterwards
  • get a small tear in their bowels

You'll be asked to sign a consent form. This is to confirm you understand the risks and agree to have the procedure.

It's important to remember these things are rare. If anything happens, the team will take care of you.

The procedure

It should take 30 to 45 minutes to have your colonoscopy.

But you might be at the hospital for around 2 hours from getting there to going home.

You’ll usually be told if any growths (polyps) have been removed.

You'll then be moved to the recovery room. The nurses will monitor you until you're ready go home.

How you might feel after a colonoscopy

You might feel bloated or have stomach cramps for 2 to 3 hours after.

You may also have some blood in your poo or bleeding from your bottom. These things are common.

Call 111, or the hospital where you had a colonoscopy, if:

You have any of these things after having a colonoscopy:

  • heavy bleeding from your bottom or bleeding that's getting worse
  • severe stomach pain or pain that gets worse
  • a high temperature or you feel hot or shivery

Page last reviewed: 07/06/2019
Next review due: 07/06/2022