Examination under anaesthetic (EUA) of the anal canal and rectum

An EUA is an examination under anaesthetic. It can be used to examine the rectum.

What is an EUA of the anal canal and rectum?

An examination under anaesthesia (EUA) is an internal examination of the anal canal and rectum, done under a general anaesthetic. This means you are asleep for the procedure.

Being asleep for the procedure means you do not feel any pain. It also allows your muscles to be relaxed. Your surgeon can examine the anal canal and rectum to check the extent of the cancer.

It is sometimes called a rectal examination under anaesthetic.

Before having an EUA

You may be asked to attend a pre-assessment clinic for tests to check you are fit enough for the procedure. Or you may have these tests on the day of the procedure.

Examples of tests you may have include:

Your doctor or nurse will ask what medications you are taking. It might help to take any medications with you to your appointment.

They will explain what is going to happen during the procedure. This is a good time to ask any questions you have. If you are allowed to, you can take a family member or friend with you for support and to help remember what is said. Before you have the procedure you will be asked to give your consent (permission).

Your doctor or nurse will tell you how to prepare for the procedure. They will give you any instructions you need to follow. For example, this might be not eating and drinking for a certain time before the test.

On the day of the procedure you may be given medication such as an enema. This will help you to empty your bowels (poo). This means the surgeon can see the rectum clearly.

It may be helpful to take a book, audiobook or some music with you. This can help to pass the time if you have to wait for the procedure.

Having an EUA

A doctor called an anaesthetist will give you medicine to make you go to sleep.

The surgeon passes a tube with a camera and light on the end into your back passage. This tube is called a scope. It may be called a different name. This depends on the part of the bowel the surgeon is looking at.

A small amount of air is pumped into the bowel to make it easier to see inside it.

During the procedure the surgeon may take samples of tissue (biopsies) from areas that look abnormal. This can help them to plan treatment.

After an EUA

You can go home once you have recovered from the anaesthetic. This is usually on the same day. A family member or friend will need to take you home. This is because you have had an anaesthetic. It is important that they stay with you for 24 hours.

Your doctor or nurse will tell you what activities to avoid and how long you should avoid them for. For example, you may not be able to drive for a time after having an EUA.

For a few days after the EUA you may have:

  • some slight bleeding
  • some pain.

Your doctor or nurse will tell you what to expect. They will give you painkillers for any pain you have. You will be given a follow-up appointment to talk about the results of the test.

We have more information about managing pain.

About our information

  • References

    Below is a sample of the sources used in our examination under anaesthetic (EUA) of the anal canal and rectum information. If you would like more information about the sources we use, please contact us at cancerinformationteam@macmillan.org.uk

    The European Society for Medical Oncology. Anal cancer: ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up. 2021. Available from www.annalsofoncology.org (accessed November 2022).

  • Reviewers

    This information has been written, revised and edited by Macmillan Cancer Support’s Cancer Information Development team. It has been reviewed by expert medical and health professionals and people living with cancer. It has been approved by Chief Medical Editor, Professor Tim Iveson, Consultant Medical Oncologist.

    Our cancer information has been awarded the PIF TICK. Created by the Patient Information Forum, this quality mark shows we meet PIF’s 10 criteria for trustworthy health information.

Date reviewed

Reviewed: 01 March 2023
Next review: 01 March 2026
Trusted Information Creator - Patient Information Forum
Trusted Information Creator - Patient Information Forum

Our cancer information meets the PIF TICK quality mark.

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