Patient Guide to Colonoscopy Information
A Colonoscopy is an internal examination of the colon (large intestine), using an instrument called a colonoscope. The colonoscope is a small camera attached to a flexible tube. Unlike Sigmoidoscopy, which examines the lower part of the colon, a Colonoscopy examines the entire length of the colon. A Colonoscopy exam is used for many reasons, one of which is to check for polyps, colon or rectal cancer in people, even if they do not have any symptoms of the disease.
Reason for Colonoscopy:
- To screen for colon or rectal cancer.
- To find and remove or biopsy, polyps which are precursors to cancer.
- To evaluate anemia (fewer than normal number of red blood cells.
- To evaluate blood in the stool, abdominal pain, changes in normal bowel pattern, or other abnormalities.
- To evaluate the results of other colon screening tests.
- To check type and extent of inflammatory bowel disease.
- To check for colon cancer following a previous finding of polyps or colon cancer.
What happens during the procedure?
During the Colonoscopy, you will lie on your left side with your knees drawn up toward your chest. After receiving a sedative and pain reliever, the colonoscope is inserted into the anus and gently moved though the colon. Air will flow through the scope to provide a better view and you may feel some abdominal cramping or pressure. Tissue samples may be taken with instruments inserted through the scope, and polyps (abnormal tissue) may be removed. The exam takes about 20 minutes to one hour.
How do I prepare for a Colonoscopy?
Before the procedure, you will thoroughly cleanse your bowel, so your doctor has a clear view during the exam. Your doctor will give you specific instructions on how to prepare for the test, including what to eat or drink and how to use special preparations to cleanse your bowel. This process is very important because if everything has not been removed from the intestines, the procedure could take longer, there is greater risk for complications, the physician may not be able to completely finish the exam, and you might have to repeat the exam at a shorter future time interval.
What happens after the procedure?
It takes about one hour to partially recover from the sedative. It is required that a friend or family transport you home, it can take up to one day for the full effects of the sedative to wear off. Do not drive for the remainder of the day. You may feel bloated or pass gas for a few hours after the exam. Walking may lessen your discomfort. It is also normal to see a small amount of blood with your fist bowel movement. However, call your doctor if the you continue to pass blood or blood clots, have persistent or worsening abdominal pain, or have a fever of 100°F or higher. Your doctor will provide instructions on when you can resume your normal medications, including any blood thinners and/or aspirin.