A colonoscopy is a test that allows the doctor to look at the colon for any abnormalities. This is to confirm or rule out a condition or diagnosis. A colonoscopy is the ‘gold standard’ way of assessing the gut.

An endoscope (a flexible tube with a camera on the end) is passed into the bottom to look at the lining of the gut and to take tiny biopsies (samples of tissue).

The test lasts about 45 minutes and the results will be available in two to three weeks.

If your child is also having a gastroscopy, this will be done first followed by the colonoscopy.

What will happen?

At home

  • „„Take medication as instructed to clear the colon. Some children need to be in hospital to have this medication. Your child will need to start a clear food diet – see our leaflet about bowel cleansing medicines for details.
If your child is on the morning list

  • Stop the clear food diet at 2.30am.
  • „„Do not drink any water or fluid from 6.30am.
If your child is on the afternoon list

  • „„Stop the clear food diet at 7.30am.
  • „„Do not drink any water or fluid from 11.30am.
  • „„Please bring any medicines that your child is taking.
  • „„It is important to keep giving your child the clear food diet and clear fluids until those times to ensure they remain well-hydrated. This may involve waking your child in the night to give them a drink.

At hospital

  • „„A doctor will check that your child is well enough to have the test.
  • „„If not done already, the doctor will explain the test and ask you to sign a consent form.
  • „A nurse will put a cannula (thin plastic tube) in a vein.
  • „Your child will be taken to the Gastroenterology Investigation Suite for the test.
  • „„Your child will be given an anaesthetic (medicine to make them sleep).
  • „„You will be asked to leave the room once they are asleep.
  • „„The doctor will carry out the test.
  • „„Your child will wake up gradually from the anaesthetic.
  • „„Your child can drink, eat and pass urine.
  • „„ If there are no problems, you and your child can go home.

Back home afterwards

  • „„Please continue to encourage your child to drink.
  • „„We will call you to make arrangements to discuss the results.

Are there any risks?

The chance of any problems occurring is minimal but it is important that you are aware of them. Your child may:

  • „„have discomfort around the bottom.
  • „„have some damage to the colon.
  • „„pass small spots of blood in their stool up to 72 hours after the test – this is normal as biopsies have been taken.
  • „„have an infection, especially if your child has a central line.
  • „„have abdominal pain due to excess wind up to 48 hours after the test.
  • „„ feel dizzy or sick up to 24 hours after the test due to the anaesthetic.
Please contact your family doctor (GP) or local hospital if these symptoms carry on for longer than expected or your child

  • „„passes large amounts of bright red blood or clots.
  • „„has severe abdominal pain and a swollen tummy.
  • „„becomes generally unwell.
  • „„refuses to eat or drink.
  • „„is unusually sleepy or difficult to wake up.
Compiled by:
The Gastroenterology Investigation Suite in collaboration with the Child and Family Information Group This information does not constitute health or medical advice and will not necessarily reflect treatment at other hospitals.
Last review date:
May 2015