Procedure Questions

What is a Colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is an examination of the large intestine that uses a device called a colonoscope, a thin tube with a light source and small video camera. A colonoscopy can be used to remove a polyp or collect tissue samples.

Procedure Bullet Points

The Colonoscopy:

  • Is low-risk and well-tolerated
  • Is used to evaluate abnormal symptoms or screen for colorectal cancer
  • Takes 20 minutes to 1 hour and recovery takes about 1 hour
  • Usually requires sedation

You’ll lie on your side as your doctor gently inserts the colonoscope into the anus and advances it into the colon. Air will be pumped into the colon through the colonoscope, inflating it to provide a better view.

If your doctor needs to remove a polyp or obtain a tissue sample, instruments can be inserted into a channel that runs through the colonoscope.

A colonoscopy is recommended for the following:

  • Screen for:
    • Colorectal polyps/Colorectal cancer
  • Evaluate symptoms, such as:
    • Bleeding
    • Chronic diarrhea
    • Abdominal pain
    • Chronic constipation
    • Colitis
  • Remove polyps and abnormal tissue
  • Follow up on abnormal bloodwork, stool studies, or diagnostic imaging tests

Your doctor may or may not advise you to undergo special preparation. If so, they will guide you through a cleansing routine.

Your cleansing routine may consist of:

  • A limited diet consisting of clear liquids
  • Consuming a special cleansing solution
  • Or additional laxatives

It’s important to follow your cleansing routine carefully. Any material remaining in the colon or rectum can affect the accuracy of the procedure.

Inform your doctor of:

  • Any medication that you take regularly, including:
    • blood thinners, such as COUMADIN, PLAVIX, and EFFIENT®
    • non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications like MOTRIN, ADVIL, ALEVE, and aspirin
  • Any known allergies to medication
  • Any medical conditions that will require special attention, such as:
    • diabetes
    • heart conditions
    • lung conditions
    • any other major conditions

It’s important to follow all of your doctor’s instructions.

It’s likely that your doctor will recommend a sedative. They might also offer pain medication to relieve discomfort during the procedure.

Due to the nature of the sedative given for most colonoscopies, it is rare that you will feel or remember any discomfort during the Colonoscopy exam.

You’ll be monitored until most of the effects of your sedatives wear off, usually about an hour. You might feel some cramping or bloating due to excess air. This will subside after passing gas.

Your doctor will walk you through the results. If any biopsies were performed, you’ll have to wait for the results.

Most of the time, you’ll be able to eat immediately after leaving the office.

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