What is a colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is a procedure that enables your physician to examine the lining of the colon (large bowel) for abnormalities by inserting a flexible rubber-like coated tube, about the thickness of a finger, into the anus and advancing it slowly into the rectum and colon.
What to Expect
Since you will receive medication that is sedative in nature, you will not be able to drive a motor vehicle for at least 12 hours. Be sure to have a friend or relative available to drive you home after the procedure.
You will be asked to sign a consent authorizing the procedure. Please be aware that one possible complication of a colonoscopy is a perforation or tear through the bowel wall that could require surgery. Bleeding may occur from the site of any biopsy or polypectomy. It is usually minor and stops on its own or can be controlled on its own, or can be controlled through the colonoscope. Rarely, blood transfusions or surgery may be required. Other potential risks include a reaction to the sedatives and complications from heart or lung disease.
Please wear comfortable clothing. Leave jewelry and other valuables at home.
During the Procedure
You will be asked if you are allergic to any medication. If applicable, you will be asked to remove dentures and/or glasses. During the examination, monitoring devices will be attached which measure your heart rate, heart rhythm, blood pressure and blood oxygen level.
Colonoscopy is usually well tolerated and rarely causes much pain. There is often a feeling or pressure, bloating or cramping at times during the procedure. Your doctor will give you medication through a vein to help you relax and better tolerate any discomfort from the procedure. You will be lying on your side or on your back while the colonoscope is advanced slowly through the large intestine. As the colonoscope is slowly withdrawn, the lining is again carefully examined. The procedure usually takes 15 to 60 minutes. In some cases, passage of the colonoscope through the entire colon to its junction with the small intestine cannot be achieved. The physician will then decide if the limited examiniation is sufficient or if other examinations are necessary.
If your doctor thinks an area of the bowel needs to be evaluated in greater detail a biopsy (sample of the colon lining). The specimens are sent to a pathologist for examination.
After the Procedure
You will be moved to a recovery room where your family may join you. Your physician will then discuss the procedure with you.
You may have some cramping or bloating because of the air introduced into the colon during the examination. This should disappear quickly with the passage of flatus (gas).