Combined Gastroscopy & Colonoscopy
A combined gastroscopy and colonoscopy procedure involves your doctor looking at the oesophagus, stomach, duodenum and the colon. Two scopes, a gastroscope and a colonoscope, are equipped with tiny cameras that transmit an image over to a TV monitor for your doctor to examine. The gastroscope is inserted through your mouth and passed into the stomach and duodenum, after which the colonoscope enters through the rectum and is moved through the entire colon.
Your doctor will look for anything concerning, possibly performing a biopsy (taking a small amount of tissue to examine for infections or abnormalities) or removing a polyp if necessary. Both procedures combined usually take between 30 and 60 minutes.
Why is a Gastroscopy Performed?
A gastroscopy is often advised to help rule out certain cancers, or to investigate the following symptoms:
- Recurring heartburn
- Difficulty swallowing
- Upper abdominal pain
- Frequent vomiting
- Recurring indigestion
A gastroscopy can be used to look at conditions such as:
- Stomach ulcer or duodenal ulcer
- Inflammation of the oesophagus, known as oesophagitis
- Inflammation of the stomach (gastritis)
- Stomach cancer
- Oesophageal cancer
- Various other rare conditions
When is a Colonoscopy Performed?
A colonoscopy is often advised when you are experiencing the following bowel symptoms:
- Bleeding from your bottom or blood in your poo
- Persistent diarrhoea or constipation
- A change in your bowel habits
- Abdominal pain
- Weight loss for no known reason
- A raised temperature, feeling generally unwell, feeling or being sick, and extreme fatigue, in combination with any of the above
A colonoscopy can be used to look for bowel conditions such as:
- Crohn’s disease
- Diverticular disease or diverticulitis
- Ulcerative colitis
- Colorectal cancer
- Internal haemorrhoids
Preparing for a Gastroscopy
Before the procedure, your doctor will explain why it is being carried out, whether there are alternative procedures or tests, and what possible complications may result from it.
In order to carry out the procedure safely and thoroughly, the stomach needs to be empty. You will be asked not to eat or drink anything at least 6 hours prior to your procedure. Before proceeding with a gastroscopy, you should inform your doctor of the following:
- You are taking any medication, such as blood thinners
- You have heart valve disease
- You have a pacemaker fitted
- You are allergic to any drugs or substances
- Any other health problems
Preparing for a Colonoscopy
In order to achieve a successful colonoscopy and allow a clear view of the colon, your bowel must be as empty as possible. It is important to follow the advice given about bowel preparation. If the bowel is not sufficiently empty, the whole procedure may have to be cancelled and repeated on a different date. This is due to the high possibility of the doctor missing important signs.
As part of your preparation, you will be given a laxative and you will need to discuss any medications you take with your pre-assessment nurse. Please ensure you have a list of your current medication available during your pre assessment. It is especially important to remember to bring any asthma inhalers or angina sprays with you.
Please make sure you remove your nail polish and all types of false nails before attending for your procedure and bring with you your dressing gown, slippers, and something to read during your stay. In some cases, people feel a spare set of underwear is useful.
When your doctor requests a colonoscopy, you will be provided with information on how to prepare for it, what products to use, and what you can expect. This information will likely break down what you need to do by the day of the procedure.
On arrival, please report to reception where you will be shown to the Endoscopy Unit and your allocated room. A nurse will check your details, explain the procedure and check your blood pressure, and pulse. If you are allergic to anything (such as medicine, latex, plasters) please inform the nurse at this time and do not hesitate to ask any questions you may have. You will need to remove all your clothes, glasses, contact lenses, tongue studs and dentures and put on a hospital gown.
You will be given a sedative and/or painkiller via injection prior to the examination. This will make you feel relaxed (this will be left lightly taped to your hand/arm until you recover from the procedure, then removed after the procedure is complete).
The gastroscope will be gently inserted into your mouth and to the back of your throat. You may be a little uncomfortable but it is not painful and you will be able to breathe normally. The gastroscopy should take approximately 10 minutes to complete. If biopsies (tissue samples) need to be taken, the procedure may take longer.
You will then be positioned for the colonoscopy, laying on your left side with your knees slightly bent.
Prior to starting the procedure, a rectal examination will be performed by the doctor to ensure it is safe to pass the colonoscope. While you are lying on your side, the doctor will gently insert the colonoscope through your back passage and into your large bowel. Air will be passed through the colonoscope and into the bowel to expand to give a clear view of the lining. This may cause some mild discomfort, but it will not last long. You may get the sensation of wanting to go to the toilet but as your bowel is empty, there is no danger of this happening. You may need to pass wind during your procedure; this is completely normal.
A biopsy may be taken during the colonoscopy and sent to the laboratory for additional tests. Similarly, any polyps (extra growths of tissue) can be removed during the examination, but you will not feel this either.
A colonoscopy generally takes around 30 – 45 minutes to complete (longer if a biopsy is performed).
Following the procedure, you are allowed to eat and drink as normal. You may still experience a little wind; this is normal. You may also feel a little lightheaded for the rest of the day as a result of sedation.
Aftercare and Complications
If you were given a sedative, you must have a friend or relative with transport to collect you and stay with you at home for at least 24 hours until you are fully recovered. You must not drive, drink alcohol, operate machinery (including all kitchen appliances), or sign important documents for 24 hours following the sedative.
You may notice that your bowels do not return to normal for a few days following the procedure.
While complications are rare, in exceptional cases, a patient may have an allergic reaction to the sedative, causing trouble breathing and irregular heart rhythms. Serious sedation reactions are usually more common in patients with severe heart or chest conditions, although again these are rare.
It is important to recognise complications early so that you can take the correct course of action. Make sure you contact your doctor if you experience severe abdominal pain, rectal bleeding of more than half a cup, or fever and chills.
At One Ashford Hospital we can book you in to see a specialist Gastroenterology Consultant for an initial consultation, usually within 48 hours.
You can use your private medical insurance or pay for your Combined Gastroscopy & Colonoscopy treatment. We offer competitive, fixed price packages as well as the ability to spread your cost with the option of 0% finance. If you are using your health insurance, please contact your insurer first for approval and let them know you’d like to be treated at either the One Ashford Hospital or One Hatfield Hospital.
Why One Healthcare
- Modern purpose-built hospital opened in March 2016 (Ashford) December 2017 (Hatfield)
- Fast access to diagnostics including MRI, Xray and Ultrasound
- Private, spacious, en-suite rooms
- Specialist Physiotherapy and nursing teams
- Little or no waiting time
- ‘Ultra clean air’ theatres
- Freshly prepared food
- Calm, dignified experience