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What to expect before, during, and after a Colonoscopy


According to National University Hospital (NUH), about 1 in 20 people are at risk of getting colorectal cancer during their lifetime. In Singapore, there are about 1,500 new colorectal cancer cases diagnosed every year. If diagnosed early, the chance of cure is higher. To do so, colonoscopy is a common but important procedure for detecting colorectal diseases, including colorectal cancer, which is notably prevalent in Singapore. This guide provides details into what you may expect before, during and after a colonoscopy.


What to Expect Before a Colonoscopy


Preparation is key to a successful colonoscopy. Patients need to adhere to a strict low-residue diet a few days prior to the procedure and consume clear liquids the day before. Laxatives are commonly prescribed to ensure the colon is clear. Patients should disclose all current medications to their doctor to mitigate the risk of complications and arrange transportation home post-procedure due to the lingering effects of sedation.


Let’s get into the details:


1. Strict Low-Residue Diet: A few days before the colonoscopy, patients are advised to follow a low-residue diet. This diet aims to reduce the volume and number of stools produced by limiting the intake of fibre. High-fibre foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds, should be avoided.


The goal is to minimise any residue in the colon that could obscure the view during the examination. Instead, patients can consume foods that are easy to digest, like white bread, white rice, lean meats, and dairy products, in moderation.


2. Clear Liquids: The day before the procedure, patients must switch to a clear liquid diet. This step is crucial to ensure the colon is as clean as possible. Clear liquids include water, broth, clear juices without pulp, tea, and coffee without milk. These liquids help maintain hydration while ensuring the colon remains clear for the colonoscopy.


3. Laxatives: To ensure the colon is entirely empty, laxatives are prescribed. These are typically taken the night before and/or the morning of the procedure, depending on the specific instructions given by the healthcare provider. The laxatives cause diarrhoea, which cleanses the colon of any remaining faecal matter.


What to Expect During a Colonoscopy


Performed under sedation, a colonoscopy involves inserting a scope through the rectum to examine the colon and rectum's lining. This procedure is both diagnostic and therapeutic, allowing for the removal of polyps or treatment of abnormalities.


A colonoscope, a long, flexible tube equipped with a video camera at the tip, is gently inserted through the anus and progressively guided through the rectum and into the colon. This instrument sends real-time video images to a monitor, providing a clear view of the colon's interior surface for the attending physician.


The patient will lie on their side, and air will be introduced to expand the colon for better visibility. This inflation is crucial as it creates space within the colon, allowing the scope to move freely and the doctor to get a better view of the colon walls. Inflation helps in identifying and accessing any abnormal areas more effectively.


The diagnostic aspect of a colonoscopy enables the identification of issues such as polyps, ulcers, tumours, and areas of inflammation or bleeding. Polyps are small growths on the inner lining of the colon or rectum that can vary in size and type. While many polyps are benign (non-cancerous), some can be precancerous or cancerous, which is why their detection and removal during a colonoscopy are beneficial.


Interventions can also be performed during a colonoscopy. If polyps or other types of abnormal tissue are found, they can often be removed immediately during the procedure using specialised instruments passed through the colonoscope. This removal is a preventive measure against colorectal cancer, as it eliminates polyps before they have the chance to develop into malignancies.


The procedure typically lasts 20 to 30 minutes, though the procedure may be longer if polyps are to be removed.


What to Expect After a Colonoscopy


Post-procedure, patients might experience bloating or mild bleeding, especially after polyp removal. Most can return to normal activities the following day, but full recovery could take up to a week if polyps were removed.


Common side effects after the procedure could include:


1. Bloating and Gas: The introduction of air into the colon during a colonoscopy, while necessary, can lead to temporary bloating and gas after the procedure. Patients are often encouraged to walk around as soon as they feel able to help relieve these symptoms. Gentle abdominal massages can also help alleviate discomfort.


2. Mild Bleeding: If polyps are removed or a biopsy is taken, patients might notice a small amount of bleeding from their rectum. This is generally mild and should cease on its own within a day.


People who have completed a colonoscopy should monitor for symptoms like persistent pain or fever and consult a doctor if they occur. These could indicate an infection or other more serious issues such as a perforation in the colon. Any concerning symptoms should prompt immediate consultation with a doctor.


Pricing for Colonoscopy in Singapore


While the price of the procedure should not outweigh the importance of doing a colonoscopy, we understand that colonoscopy pricing may still be a factor for many people. In Singapore, the cost of doing colonoscopy varies depending on medical insurance coverage. Our list price for colonoscopy is from SGD 2,700. If polyp removal or other procedure is required during the procedure, there can be additional costs, depending on factors such as the number and size of polyps removed. These prices are competitive with market rates, and priced according to Singapore’s Ministry of Health guidelines.


Colonoscopy is a commonly covered procedure for many medical insurance schemes. Generally, if you have adequate medical insurance coverage, then Somerset Imaging Centre can facilitate cashless service. Your Medisave coverage can be tapped on to pay for up to around SGD 1250, depending on the complexity of the case. For a more detailed breakdown, you can book a consultation with us. Our staff will be happy to assist you to understand more on your situation and your need.




Somerset Imaging Centre is a one-stop healthcare centre that provides colonoscopy. Should you require a colonoscopy or want to find out more details on the procedure, do not hesitate to book a consultation with our team of healthcare professionals.

When would you need an Colonoscopy?

Q: Is colonoscopy painful?


A: Patients are typically sedated during the procedure, so they should not feel any pain. Some patients may experience mild discomfort or bloating afterward, but this usually subsides quickly.


Q: How often should I have a colonoscopy?


A: The recommended frequency of colonoscopy screenings depends on factors such as age, personal and family medical history, and previous screening results. Your healthcare provider can help determine the appropriate screening schedule for you.


Q: What should I expect during the bowel preparation process?


A: Bowel preparation is a crucial step before colonoscopy to ensure the colon is clear for optimal visualization. This typically involves following a special diet and taking laxatives to empty the bowels completely. Your healthcare provider will provide specific instructions tailored to your needs.

Check out our Screening packages including Colonoscopy Singapore.

Colonoscopy Singapore

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