What is a colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is a diagnostic procedure that allows your doctor to visually examine the inside of the colon (large intestine) for different disease states or precancerous lesions. This is accomplished by inserting a tube with a camera on the end into the anus and through the colon. The images from the camera are viewed on a display monitor.
Why a colonoscopy is performed
Colonoscopies are performed to investigate irregularities found on an X-ray or CT scan, or for symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea or blood in the stool. They may also be performed regularly for people at risk for polyps or colon cancer. Colonoscopy is also the best test for colon cancer screening.
How I can Prepare for the Procedure
The colon must be completely clean to achieve accurate results. Patients will be instructed to prepare prior to the test by using a cleansing solution to drink along with consuming only a clear liquid diet. The purpose of the prep is to fully clean out the colon, so that a complete examination can take place. Polyps are actually very small - a large polyp is only 1 cm in size (less than half an inch). If the colon is not completely clean, some polyps can be missed. You will receive more detailed preparation instructions from your doctor when you have your office appointment.
For five (5) days prior to your procedure, you will be instructed not take medications such as aspirin, advil, aleve, arthrotec, celebrex, diclofenac, ibuprofen, indomethacin, meloxicam, mobic, motrin, naprosyn, naproxen, relafen, sulindac, or toradol. You also will be instructed not to take blood thinners such as plavix or coumadin, among others your cardiologist has prescribed. Do not stop any blood thinners without first speaking to your cardiologist.
CLICK BELOW FOR YOUR COLONOSCOPY PREP INSTRUCTIONS
What I Can Expect During a Colonoscopy
Before the procedure, an IV is inserted with medication to make the patient relaxed and sleepy. The heart, blood pressure and oxygenation of the blood are monitored throughout the procedure. During the colonoscopy, the patient lies on their left side or back as the colonoscope is slowly inserted. It reaches all the way to the tip of the colon and examines the lining of the area as it passes in and out. The procedure takes about 15-30 minutes. A biopsy may be taken during the procedure if an area needs to be examined further.
What Happens After a Colonoscopy
After the procedure, patients will be kept under observation for the recovery period until the medication wears off. Reflexes and judgment may be impaired for the rest of the day. Some cramping or bloating may be experienced, but should be relieved quickly. You will not be able to drive for the remainder of the day but eating and other normal activities can resume immediately.
What to Expect
The surgical center will call you the day before the procedure to confirm your arrival time. Because of cancellations, times cannot be confirmed far in advance. Click for directions on how to get to the center.
Upon arrival at the center, you will sign in the reception area. Although coffee and snacks are available, do not eat or drink anything! All pre-menopausal women are required to take a urine pregnancy test prior to their procedure so, if you do have to go, have the nurse get you a specimen cup so you won't have to go twice.
You will then be led to the pre-procedure area. There you meet the anesthesiologist, who reviews your medical history and explains how the sedation works. You change your clothes and put on a hospital gown and a robe. An IV line is then inserted into your arm - through this line you will eventually get the sedative. The nurse then leads you into the procedure room, where you lie down on a bed. You will be given the medication through your IV and gradually fall asleep. Since the procedure does not begin until after you are asleep, you will not feel any discomfort during the procedure.
During the procedure, a thin flexible tube called a colonoscope is gently inserted into your rectum. The colonoscope has a camera on the end of it, allowing it to be guided through the colon. The doctor will examine the colon, and look for small growths called polyps, or for causes of diarrhea or bleeding. He or she can take pictures, biopsies, inject medication or do whatever else is needed. If polyps are seen, they are typically removed during the procedure. The colonoscope is then slowly withdrawn. The procedure itself takes approximately 15 to 20 minutes. Again, since you are asleep you will feel no discomfort.
After the procedure is over, patients are taken to the recovery area. The sedation wears off quickly, so within 15 minutes you are awake and walking. The nurse will offer you a light snack of juice and crackers. Once you are fully awake your doctor will speak with you and review the results of your procedure. You and your family member will be able to ask any questions you may have. You can then go home. Generally, your diet is not restricted after the procedure.
Patients typically feel quite well after the procedure. If you develop fever, bleeding or abdominal pain once you are home you should contact your doctor.