Gastro-intestinal symptoms such as rectal and intestinal bleeding, anaemia or changes in bowel habit. This procedure is also done in patients without symptoms to screen for colo-rectal polyps or cancer. This is advised for individuals who are 45 years and older, as well as individuals with a family history of colon cancer or polyps.
You will be sedated for the procedure, which involves the anaesthetist inserting a plastic cannula into a vein on your arm (like a drip) and administering the sedative medication intravenously (via your vein). This means you will be asleep for the entire duration of the procedure. A flexible scope with a camera is inserted through the anus into the rectum and the colon is examined. Polyps may be removed, any tissue samples taken will be sent to the pathologist for further analysis.
- Minor complications or side effects may include nausea, vomiting or allergic reactions to the sedative medications that are used. You may have loose bowel actions for a day or two after the examination but you are likely to return to normal within 24 hours of the procedure.
- The most severe complications from a colonoscopy are perforation, heavy bleeding and death (the last occurring in 1 out of 100 000 patients).
- During colonoscopies where a polyp is removed (a polypectomy), the overall risk for perforation is 1 in 1000 patients.
- A serious complication that may arise after a colonoscopy with a polypectomy is the “post-polypectomy syndrome”- this occurs due to a burn to the bowel wall when the polyp is removed. It is however a very rare complication and as a result, patients may experience fever and abdominal pain. The condition is treated with intravenous fluids and antibiotics while the bedrest is maintained.
- Severe dehydration caused by the laxatives that are taken during bowel preparation for the colonoscopy may occur. It is therefore advised that patients keep fluid intake up during the preparation stage before the procedure.
After your consultation:
- Obtain authorization from your medical aid (whether the scope is done in consultation rooms/theatre)
- Carefully read through pre-procedure information provided.
Day before procedure:
- Prepare colon with prescribed colon preparation and diet as provided by our reception.
- Do not eat/drink after 22h00, the night before your surgery, unless otherwise specified by your surgeon or anaesthetist (you should be fasting for at least 6 hours before the procedure for solids but you are allowed to take clear liquids up to two hours before your procedure).
Day of procedure:
- Arrive for admission at indicated time on ‘Code & Consent’ sheet.
- If your procedure will be done in theatre, change into theatre attire and remove all valuable belongings.
- If your procedure is taking place in the consultation rooms, you will be asked to change into a gown.
You will be in the procedure room for about 20-40 minutes. The scope itself will take 10-15 minutes (this is dependent on whether a polypectomy or biopsy is being done). You will need a few minutes to recover from the sedation in the recovery area.
The surgeon will usually see you after the procedure to explain the findings to you.
- A responsible adult should drive you home. Avoid driving, operating heavy machinery or taking any important decisions for 12 hours after the procedure.
- It is best to avoid alcohol consumption for 12 hours.
- Unless otherwise directed you may resume your normal diet after the colonoscopy.
- Wait until the day after the procedure before resuming your normal exercise routine. Common sense applies.
Back to work:
- You can return to work the day after your procedure. A sick note will be provided for the day of the procedure, unless agreed upon otherwise by the surgeon.
- If polyps were removed or biopsies taken, avoid using Aspirin or anti-inflammatory drugs for 2 weeks.
After the procedure you may have some abdominal discomfort or cramps, and a feeling of being slightly bloated. This is as a result of the air which is inserted into your colon during the procedure to improve visualisation.
- As close to one week after discharge as possible. Please contact the rooms to schedule an appointment.