Endoscopy Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Please see below for commonly asked questions and answers. We endeavour to keep these up to date as and when new information becomes known.

Your Appointment

I have received bowel preparation from your pharmacy but I have not yet heard about a date for my procedure?

Our pharmacy is very efficient at sending out your bowel preparation. Our booking team will contact you when we are ready to agree your appointment date.

How long should I allow for my appointment in Endoscopy?

You need to allow two to three hours for your visit to the Endoscopy unit; from when you walk in the front door to when you are ready to leave. We aim to keep you for as short a time as possible but very occasionally if lists run late because of an emergency, you may be in the department for longer.

Why does it take so long?

The appointment time starts from when you arrive at the Endoscopy Unit and carries on all the way to your exit. Not only does this include your admission, any questions you may have, any time needed to change clothes, your procedure, your post procedure recovery, your results and getting ready to go home, but also may sometimes involve delays due to more urgent emergency patients also being seen on our units.

How long is the actual procedure?

The time taken to complete the test varies between patients, but as a guide:

Gastroscopy: 15 minutes

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy: 15 minutes

Colonoscopy: 30 to 45 minutes

If we need to remove polyps, this may take longer

Do I need to bring anything with me?

You do not need to bring anything with you except your consent form, unless you have a personal wheelchair or equipment that you prefer to use. If you have any emergency medications, such as an epi-pen, inhaler or glucose tablets, please ensure to carry these with you. You may want to bring something to entertain yourself while you wait. You do not need to bring a change of clothes and we recommend that you do not bring any jewellery or valuables.

I have an appointment for a CT colonography/Virtual Colonoscopy

The endoscopy department is not involved with these procedures. Please contact the radiology department.

I no longer want the procedure

The decision whether or not to have the procedure is yours alone. If you have changed your mind after agreeing an appointment, we ask that you please contact our booking team to cancel. We are a busy unit and there are other patients waiting for an appointment.

Do you offer childcare?

If you have young children, you will need to arrange childcare. We do not have childcare facilities at any of our endoscopy units.

Preparing Yourself for the Procedure

Do I need to starve myself?

The information leaflet sent to you in the post will detail whether or not you need to starve, and for how long.

Can I take my tablets while I am starving?

Please take any routine medication as usual with a small amount of water, unless you have been advised to stop them

Can I take my tablets once I have started the bowel preparation?

Please take any routine medication at least one hour before or after you take the bowel preparation. If you are taking the oral contraceptive pill you should take other precautions for one week after the test.

How do I take the bowel preparation?

This is usually a laxative drink, made at home, to help you thoroughly empty your bowels. The instructions will be included in the information leaflets which have been posted to you when you agreed your appointments. To view our patient information click here.

I have started the bowel preparation but have not been to the toilet yet?

It is normal for your first bowel movement to happen several hours after you begin taking your first dose of the liquid preparation. The laxatives can take varying lengths of time to affect each person, and the second dose tends to work much more quickly than the first.

What should I do if I feel sick or have been sick during my bowel preparation?

Take a 30 minute break, then restart your preparation from where you had reached as detailed in the information leaflet. Drink plenty of clear fluids. If you continue to vomit, stop taking the bowel preparation and contact the Endoscopy unit (if you are sick in the evening contact us the following morning). If you feel very unwell you should call 111 or attend the Accident and Emergency Department.

What are my options for sedation?

The sedative available on all ULHT endoscopy units is given to improve comfort. It will be dosed appropriately for you by the endoscopist and is not given to make you go to sleep. Some patients do not remember anything after a procedure with sedation, and others find they can remember everything. The sedative can take up to 24 hours to wear off, therefore it is important to have someone accompany you home and stay with you for at least 4 hours and if possible overnight.

Are there any vending machines in the waiting area?
Unfortunately due to patient starvation for procedures this is not possible, however, food and drink facilities are available nearby within the hospital.

If I can’t get to the hospital, can transport be arranged?

You must contact NEPTS on 0300 3000 3434 for transport enquiries. They will ask some eligibility questions and arrange the transport for you. Transport is not guaranteed.

Some GP surgeries have their own volunteer drivers available, please contact your GP for details.

If you have tried all methods you are comfortable with, please contact our PALS team to discuss if there are any other options available.

The Procedure

Will the procedure be painful?

Each patient’s experience is different, and some may feel some discomfort. The endoscopist and the nurses in the room constantly monitor you. Patients having a colonoscopy can experience some discomfort similar to trapped wind or period pain at times during the procedure but staff will monitor you throughout the procedure and ensure you are as comfortable as possible. We work to national guidelines depending on age and health. You can ask for the procedure to be paused or stopped at any point.

How long will the procedure take?

The time taken to complete the test varies between patients, but as a guide;

Gastroscopy: 15 minutes

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy: 15 minutes

Colonoscopy: 30 to 45 minutes

Is sedation optional?

Yes, for most of the procedures performed in our units, sedation is your choice. Most gastroscopies can be performed with just a numbing anaesthetic spray, and a flexible sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy can be performed with only gas and air. There are some procedures such as ERCP where you may be advised to have sedation, but this will be discussed with you before your procedure.

Can I stop the procedure?

You are able to change your mind at any point before or during the procedure. Other treatment options may be discussed with you during your visit, or you may be referred for a clinic appointment.

Who will be with me during the procedure?

A nurse will be allocated to you during the procedure whose role is to take care of you. They will closely monitor your observations and check your comfort levels. They will also guide and support you through the procedure, and provide the gas and air if applicable. If you have any questions or concerns they will do their best to help you.

What if I do not attend?

If you have not contacted endoscopy to cancel and rearrange your appointment, you may be discharged and referred back to your GP.

Recovery After Your Procedure

What does recovery from a procedure involve?

Without sedation, recovery is usually fast and you will not be kept in the hospital for any length of time. You will be offered refreshments if appropriate and then taken to a discharge room to receive a copy of your endoscopy report and any follow up instructions.

If you had sedation, you will be moved to the recovery area and given time for the sedation to begin wearing off, under observation. During recovery, you will be offered refreshments (if appropriate), before being given a copy of your endoscopy report.

Can I speak to the endoscopist who did my procedure?

The endoscopist may speak to you after the procedure while you are still in the procedure room. If you were given sedation, your memories of this may be faded. Once you have recovered, a nurse will explain the findings of the endoscopy report with you at discharge. They will be able to answer any questions at this point.

The endoscopist may be performing another procedure on the next patient, and will not always be available to come and speak with you personally. If you feel it is important for you to speak with them, please let one of the nurses know and they will do their best to oblige.

When will I get my results?

You will be offered a copy of your endoscopy report at discharge. If a biopsy was taken during the procedure, it will be sent to the hospital laboratory for analysis, and you will hear from one of the secretaries when the results are ready. Your GP will also receive a copy of your endoscopy report. If another endoscopy procedure is necessary, you will be made aware and the appointment booked while you are still in the endoscopy unit. If any bowel preparation is needed, you will be given this to take home.

Can I drive after my procedure if I have had sedation?

No. If you have had sedation you will not be able to drive for 24 hours, you must be driven home and have someone stay with you for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

Patients who opt-out of sedation can return to work if they feel fit and able. If sedation is chosen then it is advised that you do not return to work for 24 hours afterwards.

Can I bring someone with me?

Please come alone if you are able. We have limited space in our waiting areas and cannot guarantee seating for relatives or carers. If you have concerns, this can be discussed at the time of your booking or pre-assessment.