What to Expect During Your Colonoscopy


People shudder when they’re told they need to have a colonoscopy. However, it’s not as invasive as people imagine the procedure to be. Understanding how a doctor performs a colonoscopy will reduce some of the uneasiness you have regarding the procedure. 

Definition of a Colonoscopy

A colonoscopy allows a doctor to see the inside of your large intestines. The test is used to evaluate the intestines for bleeding, tumors, ulcers or polyps. It’s possible for the physician to take a sample of tissue to conduct further testing for cancer.

What Happens During a Colonoscopy 

Before the colonoscopy, the doctor will request you fast for one to two days. You may need to drink a special solution to help with the process of emptying the bowels. You’ll be placed on a clear liquid diet. During this time, you’ll have frequent, possibly runny, bowel movements. 

You can expect the colonoscopy to take about 20 minutes. After you put on your gown, a physician will give you a mild sedative as anesthesia for the colonoscopy. The sedative will help you to relax. We may administer it via pill form; however, in some cases, we’ll give you a sedative combined with a pain medication intravenously as anesthesia for the colonoscopy. The first part of the exam consists of you lying on your side on the exam table. You’ll need to draw your knees toward your chest. Next, the doctor inserts a colonoscope, which consists of a light and a tube, into your rectum. It’s long enough to reach the entire length of your colon. The tube administers air into the colon in order to inflate the colon, so the doctor has a better view of the lining of the colon. The tiny video camera sends images to a monitor where the doctor is able to examine the inside of the colon. If necessary, the doctor may insert an instrument through the tube to collect a tissue sample or remove polyps.  

After the Procedure

The sedative will wear off within an hour, but you still need someone to take you home because the sedative won’t wear off completely by this time. You shouldn’t drive or go back to work until the day after your colonoscopy. A special diet is necessary if you had a polyp removed during the procedure. During the first few hours after your colonoscopy, you may have bloating or flatulence. A small amount of blood in your stool is normal following the procedure. Inform your doctor if you continuously have blood clots or pass blood. You should notify the doctor if you have persistent abdominal pain or run a fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. 

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