Endoscopy

Patient Information – Endoscopy

On this page, you will find resources and answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about your planned endoscopy procedure.

Click to jump to the relevant FAQ section:

The Gastroenterological Society of Australia (GESA) has produced the following information sheets about endoscopy procedures.

General Endoscopy FAQs
What is an endoscopy/gastroscopy/ colonoscopy?

Endoscopy is a medical procedure using a long, flexible tube, with a camera on the end to examine a cavity of the body. The tube is about the width of an adult index finger. A Gastroscopy is an endoscopy of the lining of the upper digestive tract including the mouth, oesophagus, stomach and beginning of the small intestine. A Colonoscopy is an endoscopy of the lining of the lower digestive tract including the rectum and the large bowel.

My GP says I need to have an Endoscopy. What happens next?

Your GP will fax your referral into Monash Health’s ACCESS Department (Fax number: 9594 2273). Your referral will be sent to the Treating Team and you may be placed on the waitlist to see one of our Specialists in our Outpatients Clinic for a consultation. After you have seen one of our Specialists, they will determine if you need an Endoscopy procedure based on your symptoms, then you will be placed on a waitlist to be booked for a procedure. This process takes time and it is important to respond to phone calls with no caller ID, text messages and letters from Monash Health to avoid missing any appointments.

I have received a letter that states I have been placed on the Monash Health Gastroenterology Waitlist. What does this mean? Am I booked for a procedure?

This letter is for your information, explaining that you have been placed onto the waitlist for either an Outpatient Clinic appointment or for a Gastroenterology procedure. This letter is not a procedure booking. One of the Endoscopy Surgical Liaison Nurses will call you and discuss your procedure date and once you have accepted a date, the booking paperwork will be sent to you. It is important during this time that you answer phone calls with no caller ID to avoid missing out on updates and appointments from Monash Health.

How long will I be in the hospital for?

Approximately 4 hours.

What do I bring with me?
  • Medicare card;
  • Photo identification (drivers’ licence);
  • Contact details of the person driving you home;
  • A list of your current medications;
  • A book to read to pass the time;
  • Wear comfortable clothing and nonslip footwear;
  • Please do not bring any valuables, cash, jewellery, pyjamas, toiletries, extra clothing.
What does an Endoscopy procedure cost? Will I be charged any out of pocket expenses?

If you are a public patient, you will not be charged. Medicare covers this cost for public patients. For patients booked for colonoscopy, the only cost is purchasing the bowel prep sachets which is $10- $15.

Will I be asleep during my endoscopy procedure/ will I feel anything during the procedure?

An Anaesthetic Doctor will give you sedation medication via a drip in the hand or arm, monitor you closely and keep you comfortable enough to tolerate the procedure. Every patient’s experience is different; however, many patients wake up not realising the procedure is completed and do not feel anything.

Can I sip water, suck a mint, smoke a cigarette or chew gum while fasting?

Do not sip water, suck a mint, smoke a cigarette or chew gum six hours prior to your procedure, as these stimulate saliva production. Your stomach needs to be empty prior to an anaesthetic for your safety to avoid any fluids entering the lungs whilst under anaesthetic. You will be asked by the Admission nurse of the exact time you last drank fluids in the admission room.

How long does the actual procedure go for? (not including admission and recovery times)
  • Gastroscopy usually takes approx. 15 minutes.
  • Colonoscopy usually takes approx. 30minutes.
  • ERCP usually takes approx. 45minutes.
  • EUS usually takes approx. 45minutes.
How do I get home?

You cannot drive, take a taxi/Uber or catch public transport home by yourself after the procedure. If you lack transport person on the day of your procedure, your booking will be cancelled- you will not be able to stay in the hospital for the night. You may be accompanied by someone that knows you (an adult who can take responsibility for you) in a taxi/Uber or public transport. You will need a responsible adult to ensure your safety for the next 12-24 hours.

How long do I need off work?

You should be able to return to work after 24hours after your procedure.

When can I drive again?

24 hours after your anaesthetic.

What medication should I cancel or stop before the procedure?

You will receive information regarding medications. If you have not received a specific instruction on what to do with your blood thinning medication or diabetic medications, please call the Endoscopy Surgical Liaison Nurse on 9554 8971. If they do not answer please leave a voicemail message and quote your UR number in the message. One of the liaison nurses will call you back as soon as possible.

Will I see the Doctor after my procedure and before I leave?

Yes, you will speak to the Doctor who performed your procedure before you go home. Please be aware that sometimes, due to emergency and complex cases, you may be waiting to see them after your procedure is complete and we thank you for your patience with this.

How long until I get the results of my procedure?

You will be notified in the recovery area of what the Treating Team saw during your procedure on the day. If biopsies or lesions have been taken, pathology results can take up to 10 working days to be finalised. You will be given these results at your follow up appointment. If more urgent results are required, your Treating Team will notify you of these. You will be given a copy of the procedure report on the day of your procedure to take to your GP.

Colonoscopy
What is colonoscopy? How far into the gastrointestinal tract do they examine?

A Colonoscopy examines the lining of the large bowel from the rectum to the caecum (the end of the large bowel). Sometimes, the terminal ileum (the last part of the small intestine) is visualised too.

What is bowel preparation and do I have to take it? What are the differences between the bowel preparation sachets?

Bowel preparation is absolutely essential for a quality examination and a colonoscopy cannot be performed without it.  Bowel preparation is the process of cleaning out the bowel, so the lining of the bowel wall can be examined thoroughly without faecal material obscuring the view. It involves diet changes in the days leading up to the procedure and drinking sachets of powder that are mixed with water. These are designed make you pass stool frequently once taken. Once bowel prep is completed, patients are fasted completely prior to attending their procedure.  If you have any questions about the sachets in your instructions, please call the Endoscopy Surgical Liaison Nurses on 9554 8971. If they do not answer please leave a voicemail message and quote your UR number in the message. One of the liaison nurses will call you back as soon as possible.

Will the hospital send me the sachets of bowel prep?

The hospital does not send out the bowel preparation sachets. These are purchased over-the-counter at your local chemist. No script is needed. The average cost is between $10-$15.

I feel nauseous drinking bowel prep, what should I do?

Give yourself a small break from drinking the bowel prep for about 30 minutes, while continuing to drink hydrating clear fluids. Try mixing some of the bowel prep with light coloured cordial, sip it through a straw to bypass taste buds and chilling it in the fridge. Do your best to complete it.

I could not finish drinking the bowel prep, what should I do?

Remain fasted and please contact the Endoscopy Surgical Liaison Nurses to discuss this on 9554 8971 and please leave a voicemail message if there is no answer, remembering to quote your UR number. They will call you back as soon as possible. You should still present for your procedure if not directed otherwise and your doctor will decide if the procedure can proceed.

I have drunk all of the bowel prep, but with no bowel movement. What should I do?

Wait, walk around (which should stimulate gut movement) and remain fasted. The bowel preparation will have an effect, but can take longer in some patients. If you still have not had a bowel movement on the day of your procedure please contact the Endoscopy Surgical Liaison Nurse immediately to discuss on 9554 8971 and please leave a voicemail message if there is no answer, remembering to quote your UR number. They will call you back as soon as possible.

If they find polyps, will they remove them? Does this hurt?

If you have given informed consent for the polyps to be removed prior to having your procedure and they are of a safe size to be removed endoscopically by the person performing your procedure, then they can be removed during your colonoscopy. Speak to your Proceduralist on the day of your procedure about this. Polypectomy (removal of polyps) does not cause pain.

I feel faint when fasting, can I eat prior to drinking the bowel prep sachets?

Do not eat solid food after breakfast, the day of drinking your bowel preparation drinks. This assists with the efficacy of the bowel prep sachets and avoids cancellation, due to poor bowel preparation. Please follow the Bowel preparation instructions for best results.

I am on a fluid restriction for my heart/ kidneys. Is it safe for me to drink so much fluid for bowel preparation?

Patients who are on a fluid restriction for their heart or kidneys will be given bowel preparation instructions containing Colonlytley/ Golytley. The large volume of bowel preparation is not absorbed into the blood stream and is safe for renal and cardiac patients. Each sachet is mixed in to one litre of water.

When will normal bowel function return after a colonoscopy?

Patients should return to normal bowel function 2-3 days after their colonoscopy, though everyone’s bowel responses a little differently to bowel preparation.

I am menstruating over the time of my colonoscopy, should I reschedule?

You can still have your colonoscopy during menstruation. Please notify the Admission nurse on the day of your procedure.

I forgot to stop my iron tablets. Should I cancel my colonoscopy?

Iron supplements darken your bowel motions and make it difficult to clean your bowel out- risking cancellation due to poor prep. However, you may not need to cancel your procedure. Please stop taking them immediately and notify the Endoscopy Surgical Liaison Nurse to discuss on 9554 8971, if they do not answer please leave a voicemail message, remembering to quote your UR number. They will call you back as soon as possible.

Gastroscopy (Upper Gastrointestinal Endoscopy)
How far into the gastrointestinal tract do they examine on a Gastroscopy?

A Gastroscopy will examine the mouth, oesophagus, stomach and the first part of the small intestine (duodenum).

Will I be asleep for an Upper Gastrointestinal procedure?

An Anaesthetic Doctor will give you sedation medication via a drip in the hand, monitor you closely and keep you comfortable enough to tolerate the procedure. Every patient’s experience is different; however, most patients wake up not realising the procedure is completed and do not feeling anything.

How will I feel after the procedure?

You will feel drowsy and your judgement may be affected for up to 24 hours post the endoscopy procedure. You may have a sore throat because of the instruments used in your procedure. You should only need Paracetamol to ease this. It is important that you do not drive a car, operate machinery, make important decisions or sign legal documents within 24 hours after your procedure.

Do I need to drink any preparation for this procedure?

There is no drink preparation required for Gastroscopy or Upper Gastrointestinal endoscopy procedures. You must only be fasted for six (6) hours prior to having the procedure.

ERCP
What is an ERCP? Will it hurt?

ERCP stands for Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography. It is an examination that allows a Doctor to image and access the bile and pancreatic ducts. It is also a form of endoscopy using a long, flexible tube, the width of an adult index finger. X-rays are also used during the procedure to assist with imaging.

Not every patient having an ERCP experiences pain and depending on what is done during the procedure will dictate how you will feel when you wake up. If pain relief is required, your Gastroenterologist, Anaesthetic Doctor and Recovery nurse will administer this to you, to ensure you are comfortable and safe.

Risks of ERCP Procedure; Pancreatitis

Occasionally patients can get pancreatitis following an ERCP (~5%). If this occurs patients may experience pain in the upper abdomen and or upper back. The pain can be quite severe. Pancreatitis may be mild, moderate or severe. You will usually need to be admitted to hospital if you develop pancreatitis and you are not already admitted. The treatment is focused on providing excellent pain relief, replenishing fluids and supportive care. The length of time it takes for pancreatitis to resolve is dependent on the severity of the episode and ranges from 24 hours to one week (and rarely many weeks in hospital, if severe).

EUS
What is an EUS?

EUS stands for Endoscopic Ultrasound. It is an endoscopic examination of both the lining of the gastrointestinal wall and also beyond, using ultrasound images. The camera has an ultrasound probe on the tip which allows imaging of internal organs.

Get the latest information about coronavirus (COVID-19).Find out more
+