Colonoscopy is a day procedure used to inspect the large bowel (colon) using a thin, flexible instrument (colonoscope) which is passed through the rectum and around the colon to its junction with the small bowel, on the right hand side of the abdomen near the appendix.
A purging laxative is drunk the day before to clean the bowel. Sedation is given and hence a friend or relative is needed to accompany the patient on discharge.
During the procedure, polyps, cancer and inflammations are looked for. If necessary, small tissue samples (biopsies) can be taken during the examination for laboratory testing. Polyps (abnormal growths of tissue) can also be removed, using an electric snare wire.
The procedure usually takes about 30 minutes. You can usually go home after about 2-3 hours.