Flexible ‘telescope’ used to fully assess the large bowel and the lowermost part of the small bowel



10-45 minutes depending on complexity of the procedure


Typically Indicated When Investigating The Following

Change in bowel habit, rectal bleeding,inflammatory bowel disease, family or personal history of bowel cancer or previous polyps.

Allows direct visual assessment of the bowel as well as obtaining tissue samples (‘biopsies’).

Also allows:

  1. Removal of most polyps and some very small (ie very early) bowel cancers.
  2. Stenting of large bowel strictures due to cancer.

Requires bowel preparation (ie strong laxatives by mouth) the day before the test.

Requires very limited food intake the day prior to the test.

Requires high water intake the day before the test (to allow bowel cleansing and prevent dehydration).

Usually performed under sedation or with entonox (‘gas and air’ as used during childbirth).

Results available immediately on completion of the test though biopsies may take a few days to be processed.



Very Low

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

A more limited flexible telescope examination of the large bowel (just assesses the left half of the large bowel)



5-20 minutes depending on the complexity of the procedure



Typically indicated to investigate bright red rectal bleeding, mucous discharge from the bottom, faecal incontinence, patients in who only very little large bowel remains following previous surgery.

The bowel is prepared using one or two enemas.

Dietary restriction is not required.

Sedation is generally not required but can be offered.

Allows biopsy, polyp removal, stenting of malignant ie cancerous narrowings of the bowel, decompression of the bowel if it has twisted (‘volvulus’) or simply become non-functional.

Results available immediately on completion of the test though biopsies may take a few days to be processed



Very Low


Flexible telescope investigation of the gullet, stomach and uppermost part of the small bowel



5-10 minutes



Used to investigate anaemia, swallowing problems, indigestion or upper abdominal pain, diarrhoea, patients with a history of polyposis.

Requires starvation beforehand: food (6hrs) and fluids (2hrs).

Can be performed with throat spray alone or under sedation with throat spray.

Allows biopsy.


Very low

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Ian Botterill holds practices as both Leeds Teaching Hospitals and Spire Healthcare. To book a consultation, please contact his secretary.