Wards and departments

Elmstead Endoscopy UnitOutpatient clinicsPre-assessment clinicLangham WardMersea WardElective Care CentreRadiologyTheatres

Elmstead Endoscopy Unit

Our endoscopy unit is based in the Elmstead Day Unit.

Endoscopy is used to diagnose or monitor the progression of disease by allowing doctors and nurses to look inside the gut using a fibre-optic camera.

More information is available in leaflet form on the ‘Information Leaflets’ page.



A colonoscopy allows direct visualisation of the entire colon (also known as the large bowel or large intestine). The day before the procedure, you will be given laxatives to clear the bowel out completely, as well as instructions as to what you may eat or drink. On the day of the procedure you will be admitted to the endoscopy unit prior to having your procedure. Most patients will have a combination of sedation and pain relief during the colonoscopy. Samples of tissue from the bowel may be taken during the procedure (biopsies). This will help to diagnose or monitor your condition. After the procedure the endoscopist will be able to tell the findings and a copy of the report.

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

A flexible sigmoidoscopy looks at the rectum and the left side of the colon. It is a much shorted procedure that a colonoscopy and is done with the patient awake without the need for sedation or pain relief. You will have an enema prior to the procedure to clear out the lower part of the bowel.



A gastroscopy looks at the oesophagus, stomach and the first part of the small bowel (also known as the small intestine). This is usually done using a local anaesthetic throat spray but can be carried out with sedation if required.

Capsule Endoscopy

Capsule Endoscopy

Colchester hospital offers capsule endoscopy which is a way of looking directly at the lining of the small bowel. The patient swallows a small capsule which contains a camera that takes pictures as it moves through the bowel and transmits these images to a device which the patient wears. These images are then downloaded and reviewed. Capsule endoscopy can be used to help to diagnose Crohn’s in parts of the small bowel which cannot normally be reached with conventional endoscopy.

Outpatient clinics

We run gastroenterology and surgical outpatient clinics, as well as a regular specialist multi-disciplinary IBD clinic. This one-stop-shop gives patients the chance to access gastroenterology, surgical and stoma care services, as well as our dietitians and IBD specialist nurses, in one place and at the same time.

We also hold paediatric gastroenterology transition clinics to help young people to make the change from children’s to adult services. For more information, click here.

Pre-assessment clinic

Any patient who is having surgery at Colchester Hospital will be asked to come to our pre-assessment clinic, where a nurse will talk them through what to expect as well as organising blood tests and an ECG to look at the health of their heart. During the appointment, patients will be given the chance to ask any further questions they may have, as well as discussing consent.

Langham Ward

Langham Ward is run by the gastroenterology team and cares for patients who are receiving medical treatment for their IBD rather than surgery. Our nutrition team and dietitians will visit patients on the ward whenever necessary to provide nutritional support and supplements, for example, as well as advice about special diets, such as low fibre or liquid diets.

Mersea Ward

All patients who have planned surgery for IBD will be looked after by a specialist team of nurses on the Mersea Ward, which is made up of four four-bedded bays and 16 side rooms. Patients will see the surgical team at least twice every day during their admission, and will also be able to take part in our enhanced recovery programme, which aims to help them get better more quickly.

During their stay on the ward, patients will be able to see our specialist dietitians, stoma care nurses and pain teams whenever necessary, and will also have input from the physiotherapy team.

Elective Care Centre

Patients who are having surgery will go to the Elective Care Centre on the morning of their operation, where they can stay with their families in an individual cubicle until they are taken to theatre. Here, their observations will be checked and further blood tests taken if required.

Patients will see the surgical and anaesthetic teams and will be given the chance to ask any further questions about their surgery. They will the sign the consent form before they are taken the theatre suite.


Many patients with IBD will need scans and these happen in our radiology department.

Computerised tomography (CT scan)

Computerised tomography (CT scan)

A CT scan may be used to look at your bowel to help assess the extent of disease that is present. It is a large donut shaped machine and you lie on a table that goes through it. The scanner takes images in slices of your body and the computer reconstructs them to allow the radiologists to see inside your abdomen and pelvis. The scan will take between 10 and 20 minutes and the radiographer will talk to your before the procedure to explain what is going to happen. Once the scan has been done and reported, your consultant will be in contact with you to discuss the results.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI scan)

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI scan)

We often use MRI scans to look at the bowel, particularly in Crohn’s disease. Unlike a CT scan there is no radiation involved which often makes it more suitable for younger people and for those who need to have multiple scans over time. MRI uses magnetic fields and radio waves to produce images of the inside of the abdomen and pelvis. Patients lie on a table that goes into the machine to take the scan. It can be quite noisy inside the scanner and you may be given headphones to wear to help with this. The radiographer will talk to you before the procedure to explain what is going to happen and answer any questions you may have.

Ultrasound Scan

Ultrasound Scan

Ultrasound scans are sometimes used to look at organs inside your abdomen and pelvis. It is usually used for solid organs such as the liver, kidneys and spleen. However, we sometimes use focussed ultrasound to looks particularly at areas of the small bowel in cases where CT and MRI are not possible.


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IBD patients who need to have surgery will be operated on in our main theatre complex. The facility is made up of five state-of-the-art operating suites, two of which are dedicated for gastrointestinal surgery.

Two of our theatres have been upgraded to become high definition 3D-ready integrated laparoscopic operating theatres. This means patients can benefit from the latest keyhole surgical techniques delivered using cutting-edge technology.

Equipment in these theatres is mounted on the ceiling so that our surgical teams can easily reposition the monitors they use when carrying out laparoscopic procedures while avoiding trailing wires. Each operation can also be recorded onto an inbuilt hard drive and written directly to DVD, so that it can be used for teaching or reviewed at a later date.

With the patient’s consent, both theatres can also transmit live images of the operation to other hospitals or universities to help students and other staff to learn, with Colchester regularly sharing expertise by linking with venues as far afield as Rome and Hong Kong.