Dr Adam Haycock is a leading gastroenterologist who specialises in endoscopic techniques, having carried out many colonoscopies and gastroscopies to treat and diagnose gastroenterological problems. Here Dr Haycock discusses how to best prepare for these procedures, and what to expect afterwards.
How do I prepare for a colonoscopy?
Your doctor should have told you whether or not you may need to stop some medicines before your colonoscopy. These include things like anticoagulants such as warfarin. Before the procedure, it is important to take bowel preparation measures to clear the bowel out so the endoscopist can get a good view. This is probably the most important part of the procedure because if the preparation is suboptimal, the endoscopist may not be able to give you the answer that you are looking for. The laxatives that you take clear the bowel out fairly effectively so it is important you have access to a toilet on a very easy and regular basis. Bowel preparation should be completed by the morning of the procedure so that it is safe to take transport to the hospital for the colonoscopy.
Can I eat before a gastroscopy?
Unfortunately, the stomach needs to be empty for a gastroscopy so that the endoscopist can see things clearly. That means that you will have to have a period of fasting before the test. You can still take very small sips of water and some tablets which you should be told which ones you can take but between four to six hours before the procedure, really no food and only very small amounts of clear liquids.
Are the results of an endoscopy immediate?
Your endoscopist will be able to tell you what they have seen after the procedure and you should be given a copy of the report to go home with so you can read through it later. If the endoscopist takes any biopsies or samples, these will need to get sent to the lab and so those results may not be available for a few days. At the end of the test, the endoscopist should give you a good idea of what he thinks is going on.
Make an appointment with a specialist if you would like to find out more about endoscopies.