What is a paediatric colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is an investigation which allows the Consultant to look directly at the mucosa (the lining) of your child’s colon (the large intestine), and the last part of the small intestine. This is achieved by the Consultant using an endoscope (a thin flexible tube with a light on one end and a viewing lens on the other end). The colon is the part of the intestine where your food goes after it has left the small intestine and before it leaves your body.
If your child is having a colonoscopy and you want to explain some information about the procedure to them, click here to view a great online resource of medical cartoons explains the procedure to kids.
Why is it needed?
This test is required to enable your Consultant to view the mucosa of the colon and take a biopsy in an attempt to give you an answer for your child’s symptoms. A biopsy is a tiny sample of the mucosa which is analysed in a laboratory. This is taken painlessly through the endoscope.
Are there any alternatives?
This is the only investigation that enables yours child’s consultant to view the entire mucosa of the colon and obtain a biopsy.
What happens before the colonoscopy?
- Your child’s Consultant will explain the planned procedure to you and ask for your consent in the outpatients department. You will also get a prescription for Bowel Preparation in the form of laxatives.
- Because the colon expels all the food from your body it needs to be clear of this food so the Consultant can see the mucosa. This is why your child will need to take some laxatives beforehand. The laxatives used here are Picolax and Sennakot.
- Once your child has had the 1st dose of picolax and sennakot , your child must commence a clear fluid diet. They must not eat anymore solid food or milk.
- The clear liquid diet includes jelly; soup, boiled and jelly sweets and any clear juice, water, black tea or coffee. Please avoid red and purple jelly/juices because they may colour the gut and distort the findings.
- It is important that your child drinks lots of clear fluids to assist the bowel preparation and maintain hydration.
- Your child will be admitted for a day to the ward.
- Your child will see an anaesthetist before going to theatre.
- Your child can wear his own clothes to theatre and may be accompanied to theatre by both parents. Only one parent is allowed in the anaesthetic room.
What does the test involve?
- Once your child is anaesthetised the Consultant performs the colonoscopy. He will pass the endoscope into the rectum and examine all parts of the colon. They will look carefully at the mucosa and if indicated will take a biopsy.
What happens afterwards?
- After the colonoscopy your child will go to the recovery department. The recovery department will let the ward know when your child is ready for collection. You can go with the nurse to collect your child.
- You may see the consultant before you get back to the ward.
- The nurses will monitor your child’s temperature, pulse, blood pressure and respiration rate until it is stable.
- Once the nurse is happy that your child is awake enough to swallow they will be offered something to drink and then eat.
- As your child may have fasted for this test there is a small chance that he may become mildly dehydrated. Whilst on the ward and when you get home encourage them to drink regularly.
- Once the nurse is happy that your child is eating and drinking, walking and passed urine he may be discharged home.
Are there any risks?
- There is a very small risk that the endoscope could make a small hole in your child’s colon. However this is an extremely rare occurrence.
- If biopsies were taken and your child may have some tiny flecks of blood in his stool. This is a normal occurrence and could last for up to 72 hours after the test.
- If your child starts to pass large amounts of bright red blood or clots you should ring the hospital as soon as possible.
- Your child may complain of ‘colic’ type pain for up to 48 hours after the colonoscopy. This is usually due to trapped wind. If it persists longer than this and you are worried you should contact the hospital.
When do I get the results?
Sometimes the consultant will see you before the leave the ward. He may have seen enough to start treatment or may need to wait for any biopsies taken. If that is the case the results will be available at the next follow up appointment with your consultant.