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What is Colonoscopy?

Colonoscopy is a diagnostic procedure that is performed to examine the entire colon and rectum under direct visualisation. By inserting a thin, flexible tube with a small light and camera at the end through the anus and rectum until it reaches the beginning of the colon, we will be able to detect any abnormal growths that may be present in the large intestines.

During this examination, any polyp that is found will be removed to prevent colorectal cancer from potentially developing and a biopsy of the tissues can be carried out for further testing. This is why colonoscopies are known to be highly effective and recommended for diagnosing colorectal cancer at an early stage, which leads to better outcomes for patients.

As colonoscopy is usually done under sedation, it is painless with only minor discomfort such as bloating after the procedure.

Who Should Undergo
As the following groups of people are at higher risk, we recommend that they undergo regular screenings every 3-5 years upon the age of 50, or even earlier and more frequently if they have a family member who had colorectal cancer at an earlier age.
Individuals aged 50 and above
Although colorectal cancer may manifest at any age, the chances of developing colorectal cancer notably increase after the age of 50.
Individuals with a family history of colorectal cancer
Patients with family members who have had colorectal cancer are at greater risk, particularly among first-degree relatives.
Individuals with lifestyle and diet risk factors
  • Obesity
  • Excessive cigarette and alcohol use
  • High consumption of processed and red meats
If you have any risk factors for colon cancer, speak to our doctors today for personalised advice on colonoscopy screening.
Speak to our colorectal specialist at 6262 1226 today
How to Prepare for a Colonoscopy?
Proper preparation is key to a successful and accurate colonoscopy. Following the recommended preparatory instructions not only facilitates the examination process but also minimises potential risks.
Medication Adjustments
Patients should inform their doctors of all medications and supplements that they are currently taking. Some medications may affect the colonoscopy procedure or pose certain risks, requiring adjustments or temporary cessation.
Bowel Preparation and Fasting

A clean bowel is crucial for the clear visualisation of the colon during the procedure. Patients typically follow a liquid diet and use laxatives leading up to the day of the procedure.

Fasting for at least six hours before the procedure ensures an empty stomach which enhances the safety of the procedure, which is performed under anaesthesia.

What to expect during a colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is an outpatient procedure. This is usually performed under anaesthesia for patient comfort. Typically, a colonoscopy can take about 20-40 minutes to complete.

During the procedure, the patient is positioned on their side with knees bent. A colonoscope is then gently inserted through the anus to examine the colon for abnormalities like inflammation, ulcers, or polyps. Air may be pumped into the colon for better visualisation.

If abnormalities are detected, the doctor may perform a biopsy or remove any polyps found using specialised instruments. After the examination, the colonoscope is removed, and the patient is monitored before being deemed fit for discharge.

What happens after a colonoscopy?

Following the colonoscopy procedure, patients may experience some temporary discomfort, such as gas or bloating, due to residual air in the colon. Additionally, reduced bowel movements in the days following the procedure are common, as the bowel preparation effectively clears a significant amount of stool. Seek medical attention if you experience severe bleeding, abdominal pain, dizziness, or fever.

What do the results of my colonoscopy mean?

After the colonoscopy, the doctor will schedule a follow-up appointment to discuss the test results and findings.

Negative Result

A negative outcome from a colonoscopy indicates that no abnormalities were found during the procedure. While this is reassuring, it is important to note that it does not completely eliminate the risk of colorectal cancer. For low-risk individuals, doctors typically recommend future screenings every ten years starting at age 50.

Positive Result

If abnormalities such as polyps or abnormal tissue are found, further evaluation and treatment may be necessary. In many cases, polyps are removed during the colonoscopy itself, and samples are sent to the laboratory for additional testing to determine whether they are cancerous or not. Depending on the results, the doctor may schedule follow-up screenings and recommend treatments, if necessary.

What are the risks involved in undergoing colonoscopy?

The risks involved in colonoscopy are very low, particularly in experienced hands. There are two main risks: bleeding and perforation.

If bleeding occurs, it will typically occur 7-10 days after the procedure. The incidence rate is very low, occurring at about 1-6 in 1000 cases. It is self-limiting and can be treated conservatively.

Perforation during colonoscopy is also very rare, occurring in less than 1 in 1000 cases.

Our experienced team of colonoscopy doctors will ensure that you receive a safe and effective treatment.
Speak to our colorectal specialist at 6262 1226 today
Are There Alternatives to Undergoing Colonoscopy?
While colonoscopy remains the most ideal, accurate and convenient option for detecting colon cancer, the following diagnostic methods can also be used:
Barium Enema
Using a barium enema involves inserting a tube into the anus and pouring a white barium solution in, coating the lining of the colon. This allows the colonic lining to become more clearly visible on an X-ray, highlighting any abnormalities that may be present. This procedure is seldom used now, in favour of CT Colonography.
CT Colonography

A CT Colonography, or virtual colonoscopy, differs from Colonoscopy in that a CT scanner is used to screen for polyps in the large intestine. Here, a tube is inserted into the rectum to inflate the colon with gas while CT images of the colon and rectum are taken from various angles.

While these options also detect the presence of polyps in the colon, they are less accurate than colonoscopy; and should polyps be found, colonoscopy will have to be performed anyway in order to remove them. This is why colonoscopy is usually the most recommended diagnostic method for colon cancer. Nonetheless, we will advise you accordingly based on your needs and preferences.

FAQs on Colonoscopy
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