It's common to feel bloated or have stomach cramps after an endoscopic examination of your large bowel. It's also normal to see some bleeding from your bottom. This guidance should help you to care for yourself after your colonoscopy and understand what to do if there's a problem.
When can I leave hospital?
You will be able to leave hospital when the doctor or nurse looking after you says you are well enough. You will have to wait at least an hour if you have sedation.
The sedation lasts longer than you may think, so in the first 24 hours after your examination you should not:
- drive or ride a bicycle/ car
- operate machinery or do anything requiring skill or judgement
- drink alcohol
- take sleeping tablets
- sign legal documents, make any important decisions, or sign contracts.
If you have had sedation you will need someone to escort you home and we advise that they stay with you for 24 hours.
We will give you a copy of your report and send a copy to your GP the day after your procedure. However, many GPs may not have this report on their system for about 10 days to 2 weeks after your procedure.
After I leave hospital
If you had sedation you should rest at home following your procedure and should be able to carry out your normal activities 24 hours after the test.
If polyps are removed or biopsies are taken during the procedure you may notice a small amount of bleeding from your bowel when you next visit the toilet. This is normal and should settle within 24 hours.
You can take your other prescription drugs.
Will I be in pain?
If you have any bloating or abdominal discomfort this may be from the air that was put into your bowel by the endoscopist during the examination. This is normal and should settle within 24 hours.
If your discomfort doesn’t settle, try to pass wind. You can try to move about and change position to help settle the air in your bowel. You can also try warm drinks, or peppermint water (sold over the counter at most Pharmacy’s) or peppermint tea.
What should I do if I have a problem?
Call the endoscopy department if you have any questions or concerns.
You should consult your GP or go to your nearest emergency department (A&E) if you develop any of the following symptoms. You should take your endoscopy report with you.
- Severe, persistent or worsening tummy pain
- A fever (temperature above 37.5⁰c)
- You have black or red poo (known as melaena)
- You are unable to stop being sick.
- Difficulty breathing or becoming breathless
It is normal to see traces of blood from your back passage if:
- you had polyps removed during the examination
- you had biopsies taken during the examination
- you have some haemorrhoids that have been irritated.
Blood clots or large amounts of blood are not normal, so contact the nurses on the number below or contact your GP. If you are seriously concerned then go to your nearest emergency department (A&E). You should take your endoscopy report with you.
Will I have a follow-up appointment?
The endoscopist or recovery nurses will explain your procedure and explain any next steps before you leave hospital and give you a copy of your report. Sometimes due to the sedation you may be sleepy and not able to remember the details and we are happy to explain by phone at a later date.
If you need a repeat procedure or a follow up appointment and you do not already have one booked, this will be posted out to you for the next available clinic, or if it is urgent, we arrange this before you leave.
If you have had any samples taken the results will be sent to the Doctor who referred you or they will be reviewed in a virtual clinic and the results will be sent to your GP. A virtual clinic is where a gastroenterologist or surgeon will review your notes and results rather than have you attend a face to face appointment. You will be sent a letter from this clinic with your outcome and results of any biopsies and next steps such as being discharged back to your GP or a follow up review in clinic.
Please do not contact the Endoscopy Unit for your biopsy results as they are unable to give them to you. If you have not received your results within 4 weeks please contact the numbers below. If on your report your follow up is:
- Surgical Virtual Clinic (SVC) call 020 7188 7188 ask for extension 53075
- Gastroenterology Virtual Clinic (GVC) call 020 7188 7188 ask for extension 87790
If you have any questions or concerns please call the St Thomas’ Endoscopy Department on 020 7188 7188 then dial or ask for the extension number below.
Opening hours: Monday to Friday 8am to 7pm
Reception desk:extension 54046 (Monday to Friday 8am to 4.30pm)
Nurse in charge: extension 54059 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm)
Out of hours: ask for the on call Gastroenterology Registrar (via Rota watch)
Guy’s Hospital Endoscopy Dept: 020 7188 1734 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm)
Useful sources of information
This is a charity that specialises in providing information about diseases and problems that people may have with their digestive system or gut.
Ref number: 5062/VER1 and 5063/VER1
Date published: September 2020 | Review date: September 2023
© 2020 Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust
A list of sources is available on request