Using this guide What's covered
Here you’ll find the answers to many of your questions about colonoscopy. Learn how it works, what it may cost, what your recovery may be like, and more.
To see how the procedure is done, view our animation below. For personal insights, see our patient experience videos in which HCF members talk frankly about their preparation, procedure and recovery.
What’s a colonoscopy?
Your colon, or large intestine, is a hollow tube, about 1.5 metres long. Its main function is to absorb water and nutrients.
The term ‘colonoscopy’ means looking inside your colon. Your doctor does this by inserting a tube (called a colonoscope) into your colon via your anus. It has a light and a video chip on its tip. Your doctor can see your colon on a TV monitor, and can insert small instruments through the scope to do minor procedures such as take samples (biopsies) or remove polyps.
Why is it done?
Colonoscopy has four functions: screening, diagnosis, investigation and therapy.
It may be used to screen for conditions which aren’t yet causing any symptoms. Colonoscopy is also a safe and effective way to diagnose the cause of symptoms such as blood loss, pain, and changes in bowel habits. It may be used to investigate abnormalities identified during other tests, like low iron levels, and can also provide therapy to remove polyps from the colon.
Sometimes – like if you have a strong family history, a personal history of previous polyps, or other risk factors for colon cancer – your doctor may recommend regular colonoscopies to check for problems.
If your doctor finds polyps, they may be removed during the colonoscopy. Polyps vary in size and shape and, while most aren’t cancerous, some may turn into cancer if your doctor doesn’t remove them.
Your doctor may do a colonoscopy on the same day as a gastroscopy if they want to examine your upper gastrointestinal tract as well.
CONSIDERING THE PROCEDURE
Treatments to consider before opting for surgery
Options that may delay the need for colonoscopy.
Results vs risks of the procedure
The benefits and potential complications of colonoscopy.
Choosing a specialist
How to find a gastroenterologist or surgeon to perform your procedure.
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