Endoscopy Frequently Asked Questions
How long is the visit to endoscopy likely to take?
How long you stay in the endoscopy department will depend on what procedure you have, if you have sedation for the procedure, and how you feel after the procedure. Different procedures take different lengths of time; additionally the recovery period may vary depending on what procedure you have had. After any procedure we ensure that you are safe to be discharged from the department, if you have had sedation or a more complicated procedure this may impact the time we wish to monitor you prior to being discharged. Whilst we strive to keep waiting time to a minimum, occasionally lists run late, or procedure take longer than anticipated. If this does happen during your visit the nursing team will keep you informed throughout your stay.
Will the procedure hurt?
We try to ensure that you are as comfortable as possible throughout your stay in endoscopy. We have a variety of different medications that can be used at your request, such as, sedation, analgesia, local anaesthetic and Entonox. Whilst we use these medications to keep you as comfortable as possible, some discomfort is quite common. In procedures such as colonoscopy and flexible sigmoidoscopy patients often feel they are experiencing trapped wind, furthermore in investigations that go into the stomach you can feel bloated. These feelings occur due to the use of air or carbon dioxide passing through the equipment into your body.
Who will be with me during the procedure?
During the procedure you will have a nurse accompanying you who is in charge or your care. They will support you throughout the procedure and help you with any questions or concerns you have. Additionally they will be monitoring you throughout the procedure and making sure you are as comfortable as possible. Unfortunately friends and relatives are not allowed into our procedure rooms; however they may wait with you until you go in for the procedure.
Can I stop the procedure?
Yes. The procedure can be stopped at any point. During colonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy let the team know if you want to stop the procedure or you do not feel comfortable. There will be a nurse with you at all times and they will be monitoring you, making sure that you are comfortable and that it is safe to proceed. In procedures that go into the stomach it can be difficult to speak, therefore we advise patient to raise their hand in the air if they want us to stop at any point. It is important in these procedures that you do not try to grab the equipment as it can be dangerous. If you raise your hand it is a signal for us to stop, furthermore the nurse with you will be acting on your behalf, keeping your care and safety paramount. If you have any concerns relating to this you can always speak to the nursing staff upon your arrival to the department, additionally if you wish to speak to us prior to your visit you should contact us.
What does the sedation do?
A lot of patients expect the sedation to “put them to sleep” but this is not the case. The sedation is designed to make you a bit more relaxed, but you will still be awake. Some patients may feel slightly drowsy or even (rarely) go to sleep, but this is not always the case. The sedative can have an effect on your memory, meaning that you may not always remember everything that has happened during the procedure or everything that is discussed with you afterwards. We will give you some paperwork after your procedure that will inform you of any limitations that are to be expected following sedation. As the sedation can make you feel a bit drowsy, confused or light headed it is important that you bring someone with you to the department. This person or people will need to be with you for at least 12 hours after you have been sedated. Additionally it is important that for a 24 hour period after the procedure you do not drive, operate any heavy machinery, sign any legal documents, or consume any alcohol. We advise you to rest for the remainder of the day. There is more information about this in the information leaflets that we will send to you in the post.
When can I eat and drink?
If you come for a colonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy you can eat and drink straight after the procedure. We will get you a cup of tea or coffee and either a sandwich or some biscuits to have before you leave, feel free to bring your own food if you would prefer. However if you have a procedure when local anaesthetic (Throat spray) is used you cannot eat or drink for a minimum of one hour after the procedure. If you have a more complicated procedure or a bronchoscopy we usually ask you to not eat or drink for a slightly longer period of time. We will inform you of when it is safe for you to eat and drink whilst you are in our recovery area.
I don’t understand why I need this test or I don’t want this test.
If you are unsure of why you need to have the procedure done then you can always contact the nursing station on the department. They will try where possible to explain everything to you and why your physician has asked for the procedure. If for any reason they are unable to answer your question they will pass on the message and ensure that you are spoken to as soon as possible. If you feel that you do not want the test at all, then that is your decision. We will not force you into having a procedure against your will; we will however advise you on why this procedure has been requested and the importance of it. But you will not be pressured into doing anything that you do not want to.
What do I need to do about my medicine?
Most medication will not have an impact on the procedures we perform. However, if you are a diabetic patient and taking either tablets or insulin please contact the nurse’s station of the endoscopy department. They will need to advise you on what to do with your medication depending on the procedure you are having and how long you are required to fast for. If you are taking any blood-thinning medication then you may need to stop taking your tablets for a short period of time. The length of time will depend on what procedure you are having and which type of blood thinning medication you are taking. Please contact us as soon as you get your appointment date so that we can advise you on whether or not you are required to stop this medication. Additionally, if you are taking iron tablets, such as ferrous sulphate or ferrous fumarate, and you are coming for a colonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy, you will need to stop these tablets for one week. All this information can be found on the information letter we will send to you.
I am confused about how to take the bowel preparation or I don’t think that it has worked.
If you have any doubts on how to take the bowel preparation correctly, how long you should fast for or feel as though it has not worked properly, please contact the endoscopy department and we can advise you. Where possible we try to pre-assess patient undergoing colonoscopy and go through everything with you before the procedure date. But if this is not the case for you, or you cannot remember everything that has been said please contact the department. If the bowel preparation has not worked for you and you are due to arrive for your appointment, please let us know as soon as possible. In some cases we might need to postpone your procedure and try a different form of bowel preparation, but please contact us so that we can do our best to help you through this.
When will I get the results?
Once your procedure has finished, and you are more alert (if you have had sedation), we will inform you of the results of the procedure where possible. However if during the procedure any biopsies or sampling has been taken, then these results can take a few weeks to be processed. We will let you know how to attain the results of these tests depending on whether you will be receiving an additional clinic appointment with one of our consultants or if you will need to see your GP/ local clinic.
What should I do if I have any concerns after the procedure?
If you have any concerns following the procedure please contact the endoscopy department. Additionally, we will give you all of our contact details and any possible aftereffects to look out for prior to your discharge. If you have any immediate concerns and it is outside of the Monday to Friday 8.30am – 5.30pm opening hours of the department, please contact your GP or go straight to A&E.