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Colonoscopy procedure

A colonoscopy is an effective procedure for diagnosing bowel problems

Nurse tending to a female patient ahead of a colonoscopy procedure
A colonoscopy is one of the most common procedures used to diagnose bowel problems. It is a successful procedure that can help to identify the causes of a wide range of distressing symptoms related to your bowel and digestion. 

The procedure looks inside your large bowel (large intestine) using a thin, flexible tube (a colonoscope) that has a light and a camera at the end of it. This tube will be passed around your large intestine to look for the cause of your symptoms. Some air will be blown into your bowel to open it up and help your consultant gastroenterologist see things more clearly.

If needed, your gastroenterologist may arrange for a biopsy to be performed to confirm diagnosis. A biopsy involves examining a small sample of body tissue from your stomach to check for problems such as inflammation, infection and cancer. It can help your consultant find the right treatment for you. 

At Circle Health Group, our network of dedicated consultant gastroenterologists are highly trained in performing colonoscopy procedures and examining the inside of the bowel to uncover the cause of distressing symptoms. We understand that living with stomach problems can significantly impact your quality of life, but it doesn't have to be this way. 

This page should tell you everything you need to know about a colonoscopy, from what to expect from the procedure, to which conditions it can help to diagnose. If you would like to learn more, book your appointment online today or call a member of our team directly on 0141 300 5009.

The cost of a colonoscopy starts from £2,300*

The price will vary depending on which hospital and consultant you choose, as well as what type of colonoscopy you have.

We offer fixed-price packages that include the cost of your surgery and all appropriate aftercare appointments. However, any pre-surgery diagnostic tests and your consultant’s initial consultation fee are charged separately.

We provide fixed term monthly payment plans over 10 months to five years with no deposit required. If you decide to pay over 10 months, you will pay interest-free. If you are paying for a longer period, you will pay 14.9% APR.

Our flexible payment options help you spread the cost of your payment across a time period that suits you.

If you have private health insurance, a colonoscopy will usually be covered by your provider. Speak to your insurer directly to find out.

*This is a guide price for patients who are paying for their own treatment. The actual cost of your treatment will be confirmed in writing at the time of booking.

Colonoscopy or camera into bowel

Please be aware that the following prices are a guide price. Your final price will be confirmed in writing following your consultation and any necessary diagnostic tests.

Patient pathway Initial consultation Diagnostic Investigations Main treatment Post discharge care Guide price
Hospital fees N/A Not included £2,100 Included £2,100
Consultants fees from £200 N/A Included Included £200
Guide price £2,300

A colonoscopy is most often performed to check what might be causing difficult bowel symptoms such as:

  • Anal bleeding
  • Blood in your poo
  • Long-term diarrhoea or constipation 
  • Sudden or dramatic weight loss
  • Tiredness
  • Chronic stomach pain
  • Painful gas

There are several stomach conditions that a colonoscopy can help to diagnose. These include:

Crohn's disease

This long-term condition causes parts of your digestive system to become inflamed. It can cause severe stomach pain, diarrhea, weight loss and even malnutrition. Stomach pain caused by Crohn's disease is often referred to as cramping.

Diverticular disease

This happens when small bulges called diverticula develop in the lining of your intestine. If these bulges do not cause symptoms, the condition is called diverticulosis. When diverticula cause symptoms, it is called diverticular disease. Symptoms include tummy pain, anal bleeding, and diarrhoea or constipation.

Ulcerative colitis

This is a long-term condition that occurs when your colon and rectum become inflamed. It can result in small ulcers that develop in the lining of your colon, which can bleed and produce pus. Pain caused by ulcerative colitis often flares up after periods of no symptoms (known as remission). 

Polyps (small growths)

Also known as gastric polyps, these are masses of cells that form on your stomach lining. Most are harmless, but some contain cancerous cells, and some can become cancerous if left untreated. These small growths can be removed during a colonoscopy.

Bowel cancer

This is a general term for cancer that begins in your large bowel. Bowel cancer is one of the most common types of cancer diagnosed in the UK, causing symptoms including persistent lower stomach pain, changes to your bowel habits, and blood in your poo. 

Although the symptoms and conditions related to stomach problems can be distressing, there are many treatment options available to help you manage your symptoms. In many cases, treatment can eliminate your symptoms, helping you get back to living a normal life and doing the things you love. 

Even if your GP has recommended that you have a colonoscopy, you'll still need to have an appointment with one of our consultant gastroenterologists first, so that they can make sure that it's definitely the right procedure for you.

At Circle Health Group, you won't face long waits to see a specialist. We can usually get you booked in within 48 hours of you getting in touch, and you can choose an appointment time that suits you.

At your initial consultation, your consultant will ask about your general health and take a detailed examination of your medical history. They will want to know about existing medical conditions you suffer from, as well as the current symptoms you are experiencing. They will want to know how these symptoms impact your everyday life, how often they occur, and whether you have tried treatment options for them already.

In order to assess your symptoms and make an accurate diagnosis of your problem, your consultant will gently carry out a physical examination of your tummy. If they can't find anything, they will share more information about a colonoscopy and whether it might be the right next step for you.

Your initial consultation is an important step in your journey towards getting better. Your consultant is there to answer any questions you might have about a colonoscopy and ease any concerns you might experience about undergoing the procedure.

After your initial consultation, our team will ensure you understand the next steps in your journey and how to prepare for the procedure. They will also arrange it for you a time that suits you.

It should take between 30 and 45 minutes to have your colonoscopy.

You will need to take a laxative a day before you appointment to empty your bowel so that your consultant can see inside clearly. You will be offered a sedative for the procedure, which will help you relax during it. This will be administered intravenously (through a tube placed in your vein).

To begin with, your doctor will ask that you lie down on your left side with your knee brought up to your chest. 

Your doctor will then pass a thin, flexible tube with a light and camera at the end of it (a colonoscope) through your bottom and into your large bowel to examine the cause of your symptoms. They will blow air into your bowel to open it up and see more clearly. You might feel the tube passing through you and into your bowl, but it will not be painful.

If your consultant finds any small growths in your bowel, they will remove them there and then with a small specialist instrument inserted through the colonoscope. They might also remove a small sample of skin tissue to be biopsied, if needed. Your consultant will tell you that they are doing this to keep you informed at all times.

After your consultant has finished examining your bowel, they will carefully remove the colonoscope from your bowel and out through your bottom. 

You can leave hospital on the same day as the colonoscopy.

You should arrange for a friend or family member to collect you from hospital while your sedative wears off and you feel tired. You might feel bloated or have stomach cramps for a few hours after surgery. You will also need to take the next day off work, as you will probably pass a lot of gas and need the toilet frequently as a result of the laxative taken before the procedure. 

You should rest and drink plenty of fluids the day after the procedure. If you have had biopsies taken or growths removed during the procedure, your consultant might recommend you avoid certain foods until advised otherwise. They will ensure you have all the information you need to follow these instructions. 

Most people recover quickly after a colonoscopy and can return to normal everyday activities within one or two days of having the procedure. 

In some instances, your gastroenterologist will recommend that you have a gastroscopy at the same time as your colonoscopy. A gastroscopy is a procedure to examine your oesophagus, stomach and small intestine in a similar way that a colonoscopy examines your large bowel. 

A combined colonoscopy and gastroscopy allows your specialist to see the whole of your digestive tract in one procedure. The operation uses both an gastroscope and a colonoscope. 

There are various reasons why your consultant might recommend a joint gastroscopy and colonoscopy. They will be able to tell you why they think it's the right choice for you.

Gastroscopy and colonoscopy

Please be aware that the following prices are a guide price. Your final price will be confirmed in writing following your consultation and any necessary diagnostic tests.

Patient pathway Initial consultation Diagnostic Investigations Main treatment Post discharge care Guide price
Hospital fees N/A Not included £2,675 Included £2,675
Consultants fees from £200 N/A Included Included £200
Guide price £2,875

We answer some frequently asked questions about a colonoscopy.

What is a colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is a procedure to look inside your large bowel using a thin, flexible tube (a colonoscope) with a light and camera at the end of it. The procedure helps diagnose a range of stomach problems.

How long does a colonoscopy take?

It should take between 30 and 45 minutes to have your colonoscopy.

Is a colonoscopy painful?

You will be offered a sedative to help you relax during a colonoscopy. You should feel the tube being passed through you, but this shouldn't be painful. It might feel a little uncomfortable.

An endoscopy vs colonoscopy

An endoscopy is an umbrella term to describe a test that looks inside your body through a natural opening, such as your bottom or mouth. There are many types of endoscopy procedures, including a colonoscopy, a cystoscopy (when a tube is inserted through your urethra to check your bladder), and a gastroscopy (when a tube is inserted in your mouth to check your oesophagus).

A sigmoidoscopy vs colonoscopy

A colonoscopy examines your entire colon, which includes your large intestine, anus, and rectum, while a sigmoidoscopy only examines the lower part of your colon, also known as your rectum. 

Find out more about having a colonoscopy.

Complications can occur during any surgery, not just a colonoscopy. Potential complications that can happen if you have a colonoscopy include:

  • Anal bleeding
  • Stomach cramps
  • A rectal tear
  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Fever
  • Bloating

Serious complications as a result of a colonoscopy are rare. If you have any concerns about these, speak with your consultant. They will be able to discuss their likelihood with you in more detail and put your worries at ease.

When you choose to go private with Circle Health Group, you can expect:

  • Flexible appointment times and locations to fit your routine
  • The freedom to choose which hospital and Consultant suit your needs
  • Personalised, Consultant-led treatment plans tailored to your individual needs
  • Comfortable and safe private facilities maintained by expert multidisciplinary teams
  • Support by the same compassionate clinical team from beginning to end
  • Affordable, fixed-price packages with aftercare included
  • Flexible payment options to spread the cost of your care

If you would like to learn more about this procedure, book your appointment online today or call a member of our team directly on 0141 300 5009.

Content reviewed by Circle in-house team in April 2022. Next review due April 2025.

  1. What is a colonoscopy?, NHS
  2. Colonoscopy, Mayo Clinic
  3. Colonoscopy, Cleveland Clinic
  4. Colonoscopy for bowel cancer, Cancer Research UK
  5. Colonoscopy, WebMD

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