What to expect when you come to hospital

We provide outpatient care for the patients referred by their general practitioner (GP) with all types of bowel problems (colorectal).

The staff in the colorectal clinic understand that it may take courage to attend, especially when you are feeling worried or anxious.

Our aim is that you leave the clinic as reassured as possible. We want your visit to be a friendly and caring experience.

You are welcome to bring a friend, partner or relative with you.

This information cannot answer all your questions but we hope that it will provide a background to the routine of the colorectal clinic.

What to expect when you arrive

When you arrive you will be asked to sit in the waiting area. There may be a wait as clinic appointments often don’t run to time. When you are seen you will have all the time you need. A nurse will call your name and you will be taken to an examination room.

The doctor will ask you some questions about your medical details. The doctor will then ask you to loosen your clothing so that he/she can examine your abdomen.  After the examination the doctor will advise you about any tests that need to be done.

Colorectal clinic tests or procedures

You may be required to have a rigid sigmoidoscopy (a look into the lower part of your bowel with a small scope) while you are in clinic.  This procedure may cause some slight discomfort but it can help the doctor diagnose the problem.  You may also be required to have a blood test.

Other tests or procedures which may be arranged for you to have on another visit

You may be required to have one or more of the following procedures;-


Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

CT scan

MRI scan

PET scan

Ultrasound scan


This procedure is carried out in the Gemini Endoscopy Suite, level 0 at the North Devon District Hospital.  It allows the doctors to look directly at the colon (large bowel) through a colonoscope to check whether any disease is present and will help us find the cause of your bowel symptoms.  A colonoscopy is usually carried out under sedation. A colonoscope is a thin flexible tube with a camera on the end which is inserted through your rectum (back passage) into your colon.  During the procedure, photographs and tissue biopsies may be taken.  These tissue samples are sent to the laboratory for further examinationThis is usually a painless procedure.

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

This procedure is carried out in the Gemini Endoscopy Suite, level 0 at the North Devon District Hospital.  This test allows the doctor to look directly at the lining of the bowel this means we can check whether any disease is present and will help us find the cause of your bowel symptoms.  A tiny camera on a flexible tube will be carefully passed through the rectum (back passage) and into the large bowel.  Sometimes a small amount of tissue is taken (biopsy) which is sent to the laboratory for further examination.  Having a flexible sigmoidoscopy is not painful, but some people may find it uncomfortable and sedation or Entonox gas (gas and air) may be given if needed.

CT Scan (Computed Tomography Scan)

A CT scan is an x-ray test that helps us to look at your body more accurately than is possible using ordinary x-rays.

MRI Scan (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)

This type of scan creates images of the body using a magnetic field and radio waves

PET Scan (Positive Emission Tomography)

A PET scan is used to produce a detailed, three-dimensional picture of the inside of the body. The images clearly show the part of the body that is being investigated.  It uses radioactive substances to look at the way organs work in a unique way. PET scans are most commonly used to help diagnose a range of different cancers and work out the best ways of treating them.

Ultrasound Scan

Ultrasound scanning is one of the quickest and safest ways we have of examining the body using sound waves. The reflections of sound from inside the body are used to build up a picture on a television screen.

What happens next?

When the results of your investigations are available, you will be given an appointment to come back to clinic to discuss these with your doctor.

What about further treatment?

The doctor will advise you if you need treatmentYou will be advised which treatment is best for you and information about that treatment will be given to you.  You may not require any further treatment and the doctor may not need to see you again.

Where can I get help?

If you have any questions or worries the Colorectal Nurses may be able to help you.

Colorectal Nurses telephone number – 01271 322464

Colorectal Clinical Nurse Specialists 

One of the colorectal nursing team will be in the clinic when you arrive. You should be given a card with their details on. Please ask a member of staff if you do not get given one.

They can be contacted on direct line 01271 322464.  An answer phone is on all the time so please leave your name and phone number so that they can return your call.

General Information

The Colorectal Clinic is held at the North Devon District Hospital

Parking is available in the hospital pay and display car park.

Light refreshments are available from the Aspretto café which is located near to the outpatient department.

Please write down any questions that you think of at home so you can ask the doctor or nurses when you see them.

Last updated: February 1, 2022