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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury


Whakamātaunga kōpiro

A colonoscopy is a procedure that lets healthcare providers see inside your large bowel (also called large intestine or colon).

In a colonoscopy, a healthcare provider passes a thin, flexible tube into your bottom and through to your large bowel. The tube is about the width of an index finger and has a tiny video camera at the end. The camera sends images to a screen so the healthcare provider can see inside your bowel. If necessary, the healthcare provider can also take small samples of tissue through the tube.

You do not have to have a general anaesthetic when you have a colonoscopy but you are usually given a sedative to relax you so you do not feel much discomfort. You can usually go home the same day.

Your bowel needs to be completely empty before a colonoscopy. If you need a colonoscopy, you will be given information about preparing your bowel. This usually involves only eating certain foods and taking medicines that cause diarrhoea (laxatives) for a few days. It is important to follow the instructions closely so the doctors can see inside your bowel clearly.

The video at the top of this page shows you what to expect if you have a colonoscopy at Christchurch Hospital.

Some people may have a CT colonogram instead of a colonoscopy. Your doctor will tell you if you're going to have this procedure.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed May 2024.


See also:

Diabetes & endoscopy

Having an anaesthetic

Page reference: 20309

Review key: HICOL-20309