Welcome to the Department of Gastroenterology

Chris O’Brien Lifehouse’s Rapid Access Endoscopy service for private or self- funding patients provides screening for and exclusion of gastrointestinal tract cancers and precancerous problems within two weeks of referral.

All pre-procedure patient contact is in writing or over the phone, eliminating the need for a specialist consultation before the scope. Patients flagged as complex will be rapidly assessed before the procedure day by Lifehouse Gastroenterologists.

Rapid Access Cancer Endoscopy Clinic

The Rapid Access Endoscopy (RAE) service based at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse is a streamlined cancer screening and cancer exclusion service (gastroscopy and colonoscopy). This service minimises harmful waiting times and test related anxiety by delivering diagnostic procedures within one to two weeks of referral.

Meet our team

Patient Information

Chris O’Brien Lifehouse’s Rapid Access Endoscopy service for private or self-funding patients provides screening for and exclusion of gastrointestinal tract cancers and precancerous problems within two weeks of referral.

All pre-procedure patient contact is in writing or over the phone, eliminating the need for a specialist consultation before the scope. Patients flagged as complex will be rapidly assessed before the procedure day by Lifehouse Gastroenterologists.

What is a Colonoscopy?

Colonoscopy is a procedure which uses a tube-like camera to examine or inspect the bowel and allows for a variety of operations to be carried out through the colonoscope. These operations may include taking small tissue samples (biopsy) and removal of polyps. An alternative method of examining the large bowel is barium enema or CT scanning. Colonoscopy has the advantage over radiological imaging for allowing tissue samples such as biopsies to be taken or polyps to be removed.

How are you prepared?

Prior to the colonoscopy you will be provided with full instructions. The day before your procedure you will need to be on clear fluids only throughout the day. On either the evening before and/or the morning of the procedure you will need to drink a quantity of salty tasting solution which completely cleanses the colon. Some people find the prep quite unpleasant and it may cause nausea, vomiting and abdominal pains. If you have any symptoms which concern you while drinking the prep, please phone the Day Surgery Unit at Lifehouse.

You will be given a sedative through a vein in the arm or hand before the procedure to make you more comfortable.

Special Considerations

As drugs are used, and x-ray screening is occasionally used following the procedure, it is essential for female patients that there is no possibility of pregnancy. You must advise the nursing staff if you have any doubts about this.

You should advise the nursing staff if you are sensitive (allergic) to any drug or other substance.

You should have ceased iron tablets and drugs to stop diarrhoea at least seven days before the procedure. Please do not stop any blood thinners or anti-coagulants unless directly advised to by us. If you are on anticoagulants/antiplatelet drugs (blood-thinning drugs) you should have discussed this with us prior to signing the consent form. You should have also informed us if you have heart valve disease or have a pacemaker implanted.

What do we do?

The colonoscope is a long and highly flexible tube about the thickness of your index finger. It is inserted through the rectum into the large intestine to allow inspection of the whole large bowel. As cancer of the large bowel arises from pre-existing polyps (a benign wart-like growth), it is advisable that if any polyps are found they should be removed at the time of examination. Most polyps can be burnt off (polypectomy) by placing a wire snare around the base and applying an electric current.

Safety and risks

For inspection of the bowel alone, complications of colonoscopy are uncommon. Most surveys report complications in 1 in 1,000 examinations or less. Complications which can occur include an intolerance of the bowel preparation solution or reaction to sedatives used. Perforation (making a hole in the bowel) or major bleeding from the bowel is extremely rare but if it occurs, may require surgery. When operations such as removal of polyps are carried out at the time of examination there is a slightly higher risk of perforation or bleeding from the site where the polyp has been removed.

Complications of sedation are uncommon and are usually avoided by administering oxygen during the procedure and monitoring oxygen levels in the blood. Rarely however, in patients with severe cardiac or chest disease serious sedation reactions can occur.

A number of rare side effects can occur with any endoscopic procedure. Death is a remote possibility with any interventional procedure. If you wish to have full details or rare complications discussed, you should indicate to your doctor before the procedure that you wish for all possible complications to be fully discussed.

Because of the risk of cancer, it is recommended that all polyps found at the time of colonoscopy be removed. However, it will not be possible to discuss the removal with you at the time of examination as you will be sedated. Therefore, if you agree to having removed any polyps found during the procedure, please sign the consent form. If you have any queries or reservations about this, please inform your doctor.

In the unlikely event of haemorrhage occurring, blood transfusion may be necessary.

Afterwards

The sedative painkiller you are given before the procedure is very effective in reducing any discomfort. However, it may also affect your memory for some time afterwards. Even when the sedative appears to have worn off, you may find you are unable to recall details of your discussion with the doctor. You will need a friend or relative to accompany you home after the procedure. If you do not recall discussions following the procedure, you should contact the doctor who performed your test (see discharge information sheet).

If you have any severe abdominal pain, bleeding from the back passage, fever or other symptoms that cause you concern you should contact us immediately.

Endoscopy involves the use of a flexible tube to examine the upper intestinal tract including the oesophagus, stomach and duodenum. The procedure is commonly undertaken if your doctor suspects that you have inflammation of the oesophagus (the pipe which connects the throat to the stomach), an ulcer, inflammation or other abnormality of the oesophagus, stomach or duodenum.

How are you prepared?

You should have nothing to eat or drink for 6 hours before your procedure. If this test is being done in conjunction with a colonoscopy, it is enough to follow only the colonoscopy instructions. You will be given a sedative through a vein in the arm or hand before the procedure to make you more comfortable.

Special Considerations

As drugs are used, and x-ray screening is occasionally used following the procedure, it is essential for female patients that there is no possibility of pregnancy. You must advise the staff if you have any doubts about this. You should have advised the staff if you are sensitive (allergic) to any drug or other substance. Please do not stop any blood thinners or anti-coagulants unless directly advised to by your doctor. You should have also informed staff if you have heart valve disease or have a pacemaker implanted.

What do we do?

An endoscope is a flexible tube about 9mm in diameter. It allows full colour inspection of the oesophagus, stomach and duodenum. It also allows biopsies to be taken from the small bowel and other areas.

Safety and risks

Gastrointestinal endoscopy is usually simple and safe. It is very unlikely to cause any serious problems for patients. Extremely rarely, individual patients may have a reaction to the sedation or damage to the oesophagus at the time of examination. Such complications are extremely rare, however, if you wish to have full details of all possible rare complications discussed before the procedure, you should inform your doctor.

Afterwards

The procedure will take between 5 and 15 minutes and you will be sleepy for about half an hour afterwards. If you have any severe abdominal pain, bleeding, fever or other symptoms that cause you concern, you should contact the number on your discharge form immediately. You will need a friend or relative to accompany you home after the procedure.

Treatment types

A number of treatment options and combinations are recommended for cancer. Read more >

Research

If you wish to participate in a clinical trial, speak with your treating oncologist or GP to see if there are current trials you may be suitable for. Read more >

Contact Us

Phone: 1300 852 500
Fax: 02 9383 1000
Email: enquiries@lh.org.au

In NSW alone, someone is diagnosed with cancer every 13 minutes. Every dollar you contribute to Chris O’Brien Lifehouse will make a difference to the 57,000 patients who visit us each year.