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One of the main health screenings advised by the Ministry of Health (MOH) Singapore is a colonoscopy. It is a recommended screening tool for colon cancer and is recommended for individuals aged 45 and above.
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What is Colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is a procedure in Singapore that allows your doctor to observe the insides of your large intestine; it uses a thin, long, and flexible tube (also known as a colonoscope) with a video camera and light attached to one end, to view the insides of your large intestine (colon), rectum, and anus.

Currently, a colonoscopy is the gold-standard for colon cancer detection.

It is extremely accurate and if polyps are detected and removed early, the chances of them progressing from benign to cancerous are significantly reduced.

How does a Colonoscopy work?

Colonoscopies are short, out-patient procedures. This means that you can go home within the same day of your procedure. Although you can expect to be in the clinic for a few hours preparing for the colonoscopy, the actual procedure only takes 30-45 minutes.
  • A light sedative is administered, this means you will not be conscious during the procedure.
  • A colonoscope will be slowly and gently inserted into your anus and guided through your large intestine until it reaches the point where your large intestine meets your small intestine. 
  • The video camera and light at the end of the colonoscope will help capture images which are then sent to a screen for your doctor to study.
  • If any polyps are discovered, they are removed and collected to be sent for a biopsy. 
  • Once the procedure is complete, the colonoscope will slowly be guided out.

How do I prepare for a Colonoscopy in Singapore?

Since a colonoscopy involves your lower digestive tract, your bowel will have to be thoroughly cleared prior to the procedure, either the morning of or the night before. You will be provided with a laxative drink or an enema to help empty your bowel.

Inform your gastroenterologist of any medication you may be taking, and of any allergies you may have.

Who needs a Colonoscopy?

Colonoscopies are a recommended health screening by MOH if you are aged 45 and above. However, if you have any of the following additional symptoms regardless of age, you may need a colonoscopy:
  • Family history of colorectal cancer
  • Change in your toilet habits (such as watery stools, thin pencil-like stools, constipation)
  • Bloody stools
  • Persistent abdominal pain
  • Unintentional or unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Feeling of your bowel not being empty

What can I expect after a Colonoscopy in Singapore?

Immediately after the colonoscopy, you can expect to feel some mild discomfort and bloating – this is normal. You may feel drowsy for a few hours and might not even remember what happened during the procedure. You will have to wait for an hour or two until the sedative wears off and you might need a relative or friend to accompany you home as you will not be able to drive.

After the test, your doctor will inform you if he/she observed any abnormalities and if samples were taken for a biopsy. If such, your biopsy results should be ready in a few days and your doctor will call you with the results. The next step will depend on the results of your colonoscopy and if applicable, your biopsy.

If polyps were removed, they will be sent for a biopsy and tested, you might also experience some mild rectal bleeding; this is normal and will resolve on its own. You might feel bloated and some mild cramping which should resolve in a few hours.

What are the benefits of a Colonoscopy?

  • Quick 30 minutes procedure
  • Minimally invasive
  • Most sensitive test for colon cancer
  • Safe procedure and complications are rare

Is a Colonoscopy Medisave claimable?

Yes. Your Medisave can be used to cover up to a percentage of the cost of your colonoscopy.

What are the possible complications or risks of a Colonoscopy in Singapore?

There are minimal to no risks or complications involved in a colonoscopy, however, if they do occur, this is what to look out for:
  • Reaction to the sedative: Some patients may experience problems with their breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure.
  • Perforation: A tear in the lining of your large intestine, which can be treated with the scope with early detection.
  • Bleeding: Some bleeding might occur along the walls of your large intestine if polyps were removed, this can be managed easily with the scope.

Frequently asked questions

Will I have to stay overnight in the hospital?
No, a colonoscopy is a day surgery means you will be allowed to go home on the same day if no complications arise.
Is the procedure painful?
No, a colonoscopy is not painful as you will be sedated for the whole procedure. You may feel some mild cramping and bloating after the colonoscopy, but no pain.
What happens if the results of my biopsy are abnormal?
Your doctor will follow-up with you and guide you on the next steps to take.
How will I know if my bowel is empty and ready for a colonoscopy?
You can tell by the colour of your stools. If they are dark and brown, your bowel is not empty. If they are light and yellow, your bowel is empty and ready for the procedure.

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    We treat all types of gastrointestinal conditions and specialise in performing endoscopic procedures such as Advanced Endoscopy, ERCP and EUS
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    6A Napier Road, Annexe Block #05-35C Gleneagles Hospital
    Singapore 258500
    820 Thomson Road, #06-07 Mount Alvernia Medical Centre A Singapore 574623

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