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.

Cost indicator

Discover the typical out-of-pocket costs HCF members can expect to pay for colonoscopy and learn how your choice of doctor and hospital affect that cost.
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Learn about colonoscopy

This short animation shows how an endoscope provides a view of the inside of the colon, and how it can be used to take biopsies and remove polyps during the procedure. 

The basics

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.

The details


Treatments to consider before opting for surgery

Options that may delay the need for colonoscopy.
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Results vs risks of the procedure

The benefits and potential complications of colonoscopy.
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Choosing a specialist

How to find a gastroenterologist or surgeon to perform your procedure.
Learn more


Questions for your specialist

What you should be asking before going ahead with colonoscopy.
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Preparing for your procedure

Clearing your colon before your colonoscopy. 
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Going to hospital

What to expect on the day of your procedure.
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Your procedure

What happens in the procedure room.
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After your procedure

Before you go home.
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Resuming activities and watching out for problems.
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Patient experiences

People who’ve had a colonoscopy talk about their preparation, procedure and recovery.

View videos


Why, when and how you should be tested.
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Important information

Information is provided by HCF in good faith for the convenience of members. It is not an endorsement or recommendation of any form of treatment nor is it a substitute for medical advice, and you should rely on the advice of your treating doctors in relation to all matters concerning your health. Every effort has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, however HCF takes no responsibility for any injury, loss, damage or other consequences of the use of this information.