Preparing for Your Procedure

An endoscopic procedure is a routine, minimally invasive procedure that allows your doctor to observe the interior linings of hollow internal organs without the need for major surgery. These procedures involve the insertion of a long, thin, flexible tube directly into the body to properly examine the internal lining of the organs in detail.

Endoscopic procedures examining the stomach, small intestine and large intestine (colon) and typically require some form preparation to ensure these organs are completely empty and can be clearly examined. Poor preparation may result in important findings being missed or the procedure needing to be repeated.

Bowel Preparation: Good vs. Poor
    Endoscopic procedures are usually performed under sedation on an outpatient basis. They are considered the best tests to investigate symptoms of the digest tract, such as weight loss and abdominal pain, and assess for auto-immune conditions of the bowel, polyps, or cancers. It will take approximately 30 minutes and most patients will not remember the procedure at all. The procedures involve:
  • A flexible tube being gently passed via the rectum (back passage) into the colon or via the mouth through the oesophagus into the stomach.
  • Air will be pumped into the organ to expand it for better visibility (colonoscopy).
  • The flexible tube is then withdrawn slowly as a camera on the tip of the tube relays images of the internal lining of the organs onto a large screen for your doctor to view.
  • A tissue sample (biopsy) may be taken, or polyps (growths) removed and sent to the pathologist.
Watch our video to learn more


Polyps are small growths that are initially benign but can potentially enlarge and become cancerous. It is recommended that most polyps detected during a colonoscopy be removed. It will not be possible to discuss the removal of polyps during the examination on as you will be sedated. If you are unwilling to have polyps removed during the procedure, you should indicate your wishes in advance.

Colonoscopy is the most accurate available method to detect polyps, and the only non-surgical way to remove them. Nevertheless, a small proportion of polyps (up to 2%) may still escape detection by this technique.

Further Information Safety and Risks

While being routine and very safe, endoscopic procedures are still minimally invasive and therefore only done when there is a good reason. Your referring doctor will discuss why it is required. Like most medical procedures, it is not 100% accurate and has associated risks. Complications of endoscopic procedures are uncommon (less than 1 in 1,000) and include:

  • Intolerance to bowel preparation (nausea, vomiting, pain, dehydration)
  • Reaction to the sedation/anaesthetic
  • Bloating
  • Abdominal discomfort (from retained air)
  • Missed lesions, small polyps, or cancers
  • Bowel or stomach perforation
  • Major bleeding

Although quite rare, the last two complications are potentially serious and may require urgent surgery. The risks of these complications are higher if polyps need to be removed during the procedure.
There is always a remote possibility that any interventional medical procedure can have serious complications. If you are concerned or wish to understand this better, please discuss this with your doctor.

Special Circumstances

Notify your doctor if you are:
  • Pregnant (or suspect that you may be pregnant)
  • Allergic to medication or latex
  • Using blood thinning agents such Aspirin, Warfarin, Plavix, Xarelto, Apixaban, Pradaxa
  • Using any diabetic medication or injections
  • Suffering from disease affecting the heart valves, had surgery on a heart valve, or if you have an internal pacemaker or defibrillator

After Your Procedure

  • Make sure you understand what follow-up arrangements are required with your doctor(s) after the procedure. You will be given a report to be taken to your referring doctor.
  • Ensure you have arranged someone to take you home after your procedure.
  • Don’t drive, use heavy machinery or sign important documents for the rest of the day after your procedure.
  • If you develop severe abdominal pain, bleeding or other symptoms of concern, please use the Emergency Contact Number listed in the Patient Discharge Information Sheet that will be given to you.