Dr Ana Wilson provides a private colonoscopy service in her clinics at The Platinum Medical Centre, The London Clinic and at Trust Plus (the private unit for St Mark’s Hospital, the Central Middlesex and the Northwick Park Hospital.
She has performed over 2000 colonoscopies and is a nationally accredited Bowel Cancer Screening endoscopist at the Wolfson Unit of Endoscopy, St Mark’s Hospital, an internationally renowned centre of excellence in gastrointestinal disorders. Dr Wilson’s research focused on advanced colonoscopic imaging and she has published widely and lectured both nationally and internationally on this topic.
What is colonoscopy?
Colonoscopy is a detailed examination of your large intestine that allows Dr Wilson to examine the lining of the large bowel and detect any abnormalities. During the procedure she can also take samples for analysis and remove isolated polyps that are present. Colonoscopy is the best way to examine the large bowel to screen for bowel cancer. Most patients tolerate the procedure extremely well and provide excellent feedback about their experience.
Why have colonoscopy?
Colonoscopy can be used to screen for, or diagnose, a range of colorectal conditions. It is most often used where colorectal cancer is suspected, or to check for and assess inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Colonoscopy can also be used for proactive, preventative bowel screening as many bowel cancers can be fully cured if caught early. In addition, Dr Wilson has an interest in colorectal cancer surveillance in patients with long-standing colitis and uses the latest advanced technology to enable her to detect early pre-cancerous abnormalities.
Preparing for colonoscopy
In order to examine the large bowel thoroughly, it needs to be completely empty. This means you will have to take a bowel preparation that will empty your bowels on the day before the test. Other aspects of your ‘bowel prep’ may include:
- Avoiding solid foods for a couple of days
- Drinking plenty of fluids
- Stopping some supplements (eg iron tablets)
- Stopping some medication (those that reduce blood clotting such as warfarin or clopidogrel, for example)
You may want to stay at home on the day before your test so that you have easy toilet access as the laxative takes effect. Detailed information sheets about diet and bowel preparation will be provided at the time your procedure is booked.
How is colonoscopy performed?
Dr Wilson will explain the procedure in detail, you will get the chance to ask as many questions as you like and we will only go ahead when we have your informed consent.
You will be asked to change into a gown and then lie on your side and relax. About two-thirds of patients Dr Wilson examines choose to have sedation (conscious sedation) that will enable you to relax but be awake during the procedure. Some patients chose to have procedure without any sedation. You may feel some minor discomfort as the tube makes its way around the curves of the large bowel but the tube is flexible enough to work its way through the full length of the large bowel in most cases.
The examination uses a long thin tube, which is gently inserted into your rectum. The tube has a small camera and a light at the end, which relay images of the inside of your bowel wall to a screen. Dr Wilson will look at the screen to examine your bowels thoroughly, taking still images and tissue samples of any areas of concern as well as removing any colorectal polyps she comes across. Taking tissue samples and removing polyps are painless.
Is colonoscopy safe?
Thousands of colonoscopies are performed safely every year and complications are rare, particularly when you are in the hands of an expert colonoscopist. You can be reassured that as a nationally accredited Bowel Cancer Screening Colonoscopist, Dr Wilson?s figures like other screening colonoscopists, are recorded and monitored on a national level in order to attain the highest quality standards of service. Potential complications include:
- Fluid loss as a result of the laxatives. This can be a problem if you have a heart condition.
- Sedative reactions – some people experience breathing and heart problems in response to the sedative.
- Bleeding – especially if polyps have been removed. Around 1:150 people will experience minor bleeding.
- Bowel perforations – very rarely, in around 1:1500 test, the colonoscope will make a hole in the bowel that in the worst-case scenario would need to be repaired surgically.
After your colonoscopy
Colonoscopy is done as a day case procedure, after which you can go home and eat and drink normally. However, if you have had a sedative, you will need to have someone with you to escort you home and stay with you overnight, and you should not drive or sign legal documents for 24 hours. Most people feel back to normal by the following day and can resume their normal activities including returning to work. If you have not had a sedative, you may choose to return to work in the afternoon following the morning procedure.