Pre-colonoscopy consultation

In this eighth English corner, you will find a contribution dealing with gastroenterology, and more precisely the colonoscopy. We would like to remind you that our aim is not to teach medicine but to familiarize readers with medical English as used by professionals and patients.

Dr. Blunt – Come in Mr. Sharp; please, take a seat. As you know, the results of your hemoccult test were positive. First, let me explain what this means. This test detects blood in the stools. This doesn’t mean you’ve got colorectal cancer, but we have to have a look to make sure. We may find polyps, small growths on the lining of your bowel. If we do find any, we’ll remove them and send them to the pathology lab for tests. In fact, the colonoscopy is negative in about 50% of examinations. And if this is the case for you, you won’t need to do another screening test for five years. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

Mr. Sharp – But what if it’s positive?

Dr. Blunt – As I said, if we do find something, we’ll remove it and send it to the pathology lab. They’ll see what kind of cells are involved, and we’ll call you back for a consultation to explain the results and to plan the next step. Maybe further investigations, or treatment, but let’s not cross that bridge till we come to it.

Mr. Sharp – OK, Doctor. So, could you tell me more about the colonoscopy?

Dr. Blunt – Well, usually, it’s done under general anesthesia. While you’re asleep, we insert an endoscope, it’s a sort of miniature camera at the end of a long flexible tube, into your rectum, and we gently feed it through your large intestine. That’s why you’ll need to see the anesthetist to check your medical history, possible allergies and your vital signs, and you’ll have to sign a consent form. The secretary will arrange an appointment for you before you leave.

Mr. Sharp – I spoke to my brother-in-law the other day. He had one a couple of months ago, and he said that the preparation wasn’t much fun.

Dr. Blunt – True, but it’s very important to do it properly. If your bowel isn’t perfectly flushed out, we may miss small polyps, for example, and you may have to start from scratch and go through the whole process again. So, let’s do it right first time.

Let me explain what you have to do. First of all, diet. During the three days before the examination don’t eat any high-fiber foods like cereals, nuts, raw fruit or vegetables et cetera. On the day before, try not to eat any solid foods at all. This will make the prep easier. Then in the afternoon and evening before the colonoscopy you have to drink the mixture to rinse out your bowel. This liquid will give you a sort of diarrhea, so you’ll need to stay near the toilet, because when the urge to go hits, you can’t hold it back. After that you mustn’t eat anything, but you can drink clear liquids.

Mr. Sharp – How long does the colonoscopy take?

Dr. Blunt – Not very long. You’ll come in first thing in the morning, we’ll put you to sleep, do the examination and send you to the recovery room to wake up. I’ll come and see you to explain what we found, if anything, and we should get the results from the pathology lab within the week, so we’ll contact you then. Just one more thing, could you arrange for someone to come to the hospital to pick you up, because you’ll probably be feeling a bit groggy, so it’s unwise to drive - best to play on the safe side.

Mr. Sharp – No problem, my wife will come and pick me up.

1. Find in the text a word or expression (in bold) equivalent to the words or expressions below:

  1. beau-frère
  2. consentement éclairé
  3. constantes
  4. convenablement, correctement
  5. cru
  6. dans le cirage
  7. délicatement, avec précaution
  8. dépistage
  9. des examens supplémentaires
  10. faire glisser le long de
  11. grosseur, croissance
  12. il n’est pas sage
  13. impliquées
  14. intestin
  15. muqueuse, paroi
  16. nettoyé
  17. noix, noisettes, amandes…
  18. régime alimentaire
  19. retirer, exciser
  20. salle de réveil
  21. se retenir
  22. selles
  23. venir vous chercher


  1. brother-in-law
  2. informed consent
  3. vital signs
  4. properly
  5. raw
  6. groggy
  7. gently
  8. screening
  9. further investigations
  10. feed through
  11. growth
  12. it’s unwise
  13. involved
  14. bowel
  15. lining
  16. flushed out
  17. nuts
  18. diet
  19. remove
  20. recovery room
  21. hold it back
  22. stools
  23. pick you up



2. Find in the text an expression equivalent to the following proverbs or set phrases:

1. recommencer à zéro

2. croisons les doigts

3. quand l’envie devient pressante

4. il vaut mieux assurer ses arrières

5. chaque chose en son temps




1. start from scratch

2. let’s keep our fingers crossed

3. when the urge to go hits

4. best to play on the safe side

5. let’s not cross that bridge till we come to it





*Professeurs d’anglais médical `a l’université de Dijon

Portrait de La rédaction
article du WUD 29

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