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Why does my child need this test?

Your child needs this test so that the doctors can check the lining of the large intestine and take biopsies to confirm or rule out particular diagnoses. There is no other way to get such a clear idea of the condition of your child’s intestine.

Illustration diagram of the stomach, intestines and colon

What is a colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is a test which allows the doctor to look directly at your child’s colon. This is part of the large intestine where food goes after it leaves the small intestine.

Your child will be asleep for this test and so will not feel any pain.

A colonoscope (a thin flexible tube with a bright light at the end) is put into your child’s bottom and from here it goes to their large intestine. The doctors will try to get around to the ileum (the last part of the small intestine where it enters the large intestine). The doctor can then look down the tube and see the lining of the intestine and check for any problems and take biopsies if needed.

What are biopsies?

The doctor will need to take tiny biopsies (samples of tissue about 1 to 2mm in diameter) during this test, which can later be analysed in the laboratory. This is done painlessly.

How long will the test take?

The test usually lasts about 40 minutes but it will take longer than this to get your child back with you on the ward.

What happens before the test?

You will have received an admissions letter telling you when to come in and when your child has to stop eating and drinking.


It is important that you follow these instructions or the test will not go ahead or will be delayed if you do not.

You will normally be asked to come in on the day of the procedure but will sometimes come the day before so don’t be concerned if this is the case.

If your child comes the day before then they will be given some special medicine on the ward that will make them go to the toilet frequently to clear out their bowels. After taking this then they will not be able to have any solid food or drink any milk until after the test. They should drink lots of water and dilute squashes only as this will help flush them out, clearing the bowel of stool is essential to a successful procedure.

If your child is coming in on the day of the procedure then you will be given the bowel prep medicine to take at home and will be given the relevant instructions on when to give it to your child.

You will be given the opportunity to ask any questions you have about the test to the doctor beforehand and once you are satisfied then you will be asked to sign a consent form, your child may also do so. The anaesthetist (the doctor who will be caring for child when they are asleep) will also visit you on the ward. Please bring in any medicines your child is taking and show them to your doctor.

Can I be with my child when they go to sleep?

You and your child will be taken to theatre by the nurse who is looking after you. Your child will already have on some ‘magic cream’ (cream that numbs the skin) in preparation for them having a cannula (thin, plastic tube) inserted into the vein. Your child will be given some anaesthetic medicine through this that will send them to sleep. You will be taken by the nurse back to the ward to wait for your child once they are asleep.

What happens after the test?

After the test your child will be taken to the recovery unit to wake up. When they are awake enough you will be able to go down to recovery to be with your child and then you will be brought by a nurse up onto the ward.

The nurses will check your child’s pulse and breathing and when they are happy that they are awake enough the nurses will let your child have something to drink and then eat.

When the doctor has seen you to discuss the initial findings of the procedure and your child has eaten, drank and had a wee and is recovered from the anaesthetic then the cannula will be removed and you can go home.

An outpatient appointment will be made in order to discuss the biopsies and any blood results with you when they become available.

What are the possible complications of the test?

There is a very small risk that the colonoscope could damage your child’s rectum or intestine. However this is very unlikely as the colonoscope is very flexible and the doctors who do this test are very experienced.

Occasionally you may see small amounts of blood in the bowel motions for 24 hours after the test. You should make contact with the hospital only if it is a large amount (more than a tablespoonful) of blood.

Please contact the hospital if there is a lot of abdominal pain although this is very unlikely.

Contact us

If you need any help or advice with the information in this resource, you can contact the gastroenterology nurses by telephoning 0114 271 7111 or 0114 271 7162 or by emailing: scn-tr.gastronurses@nhs.net

Further information

Please read our resource for more information about risks of anaesthetics.

Is something missing from this resource that you think should be included? Please let us know

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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

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S10 2TH

United Kingdom

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