Investigating Ulcerative Colitis

Tests are required not only to work out the diagnosis, but are also used to assess the extent and the severity of the colitis. Ulcerative colitis can usually be diagnosed by the microscopic examination of tissue samples (biopsies) taken from the bowel.

After undergoing an initial assessment by a GP, further tests and investigations are usually arranged by the hospital consultant:

  • Blood tests- blood tests can confirm anaemia which may result from the inflammation of the lining of the bowel. Other blood tests are available which can indicate the severity of the inflammation.
  • Stool tests- in patients with diarrhoea to identify whether or not there is an underlying infection causing the symptoms.
  • Rigid sigmoidoscopy - may be carried out in clinic. This test allows the doctor to look at the lining of the lowest part of the bowel by passing a small tube via the back passage
  • Colonoscopy - this allows the inside of the colon and rectum to be examined through a long flexible tube being inserted via the back passage and up into the colon. This test can be used to determine the amount of inflammation inside the colon.  During the colonoscopy a biopsy can be taken to help with confirming a diagnosis.
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy  -this allows the doctor to look at the lower part of the bowel using a shorter flexible tube inserted via the back passage. Again inflammation can be assessed and biopsies taken. The whole of the colon is not seen using this test.
What are the next steps?
If you think you have this condition or any of these symptoms
you will need to seek medical advice.
For more information or to make an appointment.
Contact birmingham bowel clinic on 0845 241 7762
or email
If you have private medical care or wish
to pay to see a consultant.
Take this factsheet along to your own
GP and request a referral to one
of our consultants
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