Colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy and gastroscopy

Depending on the characteristics of your symptoms and other factors such as age and family history, you may be asked to undergo a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy. These procedures involve inserting an endoscope (thin and flexible tube with a camera and light at its’ head) through your rectum to examine the colon (i.e., large intestine). This examination allows the doctor to check for signs of inflammation (e.g., ulcers), bleeding or abnormal cell growth (e.g., dysplasia, cancerous cells) that suggest your symptoms are due to something other than IBS (e.g., Crohn’s disease). The doctor may take small tissue samples (biopsies) to examine later for signs of inflammation or abnormal cells.

Colonoscopy involves a period of fasting and removal of certain foods/drinks in the day(s) prior so that the doctor can get a clear look at what is happening in the bowel. Patients are usually sedated during the procedure, so you will have little or no memory of it taking place. You will need to be driven home after the procedure and take the day to recover as residual sedative effects can hamper activities like driving, working, and decision-making. Sigmoidoscopy requires a 6-hour fast if you are to receive sedation for the procedure –your doctor will instruct you on the preparation required.The gastroscopy is a similar procedure to the colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy; however, the endoscope is inserted through the mouth, down the oesophagus, and into the stomach and first section of small intestine (duodenum). Biopsies may be taken and you will need to be driven home to recover if you received sedation.