Colorectal physiology testing


We're able to carry out a wide range of colorectal physiological tests to get to the root of your lower bowel problems

Endoscopy at The Princess Grace Hospital

What are colorectal physiology tests?

If you're having problems with your back passage or lower bowel, we can carry out tests to get to the root of your problems. These may include:

  • Colonic transit: This measures how long it takes for you to empty your bowel. We'll ask you to swallow a capsule and track it on an X-ray 
  • Rectal sensation: This involves inserting a balloon into your rectum to see how much volume it can hold 
  • Anal pressure measurements: This involves inserting a small tube into your back passage to measure the strength of your rectum muscles 
  • Pudendal nerve function test: This test studies the function of the nerves in your pelvic floor 
  • Ultrasound: This scan can tell if the muscles around your back passage are intact or damaged
  • Evacuation proctography: This test is used to investigate any problems you may have when you try for a bowel movement

Depending on your symptoms, we may carry out one or a combination of these tests.

Need to know 

These tests are carried out to find out how well your lower bowel and back passage are working. As such, they normally happen after an initial discussion about your symptoms, usually with a GP or consultant. They will decide which test is right for you. It can be a little embarrassing and uncomfortable having tests done on your back passage. Rest assured, all of our tests are carried out by discreet, professional experts who are committed to minimising your discomfort and protecting your privacy.
Your consultant will explain which test is right for you and what to expect. Apart from the colonic transit test, your consultant will most likely ask you to lie on a couch so they can show you what happens in the test. They'll also be happy to answer any questions you might have.

You'll most likely be able to go home on the day of your test(s). You can arrange for a friend or relative to come and pick you up after the test. However, we won't be giving you a sedative beforehand (a drug to help you sleep) so you won't necessarily need someone to come and collect you.

You may experience a little discomfort in the lower part of your tummy or back passage after the tests for a few hours but this usually settles down. If you experience any unusual symptoms, like bleeding, please do get in touch.

Our locations

The Princess Grace Hospital

The Princess Grace Hospital

42-52 Nottingham Place W1U 5NY London
The Lister Hospital

The Lister Hospital

Chelsea Bridge Road, SW1W 8RH London
London Bridge Hospital

London Bridge Hospital

27 Tooley Street SE1 2PR London

This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.