What to Expect: Your Colonoscopy

What to expect the day of your colonoscopy

 

 
Colonoscopy is a procedure designed to visualize your colon, also known as the large bowel.

A long, flexible endoscope with a brightly lighted tip is gently guided through the colon. The images are viewed on a video screen by your gastroenterologist. During colonoscopy, your physician can pass instruments through the endoscope allowing for tissue biopsies, polyp removal, medication administration, and laser or heat therapy.

By now, your physician has recommended you undergo colonoscopy. You will receive written instructions in the mail prior to your examination regarding the colon cleanse. Your bowel must be thoroughly cleaned the day prior to your exam. To review these instructions online, please follow this link.

Colonoscopy is an outpatient procedure unless you are currently hospitalized, so you can expect to return home the same day of the procedure.

When you arrive the day of your colonoscopy, an IV will be placed into your arm or hand. Your medical history will be reviewed and you will have an opportunity to speak with your physician prior to starting the test. A specially trained endoscopy nurse will administer medications to induce relaxation. Your nurse will constantly monitor your vital signs while your physician performs your colonoscopy.

Colonoscopy generally takes between 20-45 minutes to complete. The intravenous medications make most patients feel relaxed and drowsy, and some even sleep through their examination. The medication is NOT general anesthesia and you will retain your ability to follow directions if needed and continue to breath on your own without assistance throughout the examination.

To adequately evaluate the colon lining, your physician will place air into your colon through the endoscope. Air can sometimes produce mild abdominal cramps, as can maneuvering the natural curves of the colon. After your exam you may need to expel air and gas.

The sedative medications wear off quickly and you will be awake within 10-15 minutes after the procedure is completed. Your physician will speak with you after the exam. Due to the medication effects, you must have a driver to assist you home. Your procedure will be cancelled if a ride has not been arranged prior to the exam.

You can expect to spend between 2-3 hours at our facility for your colonoscopy and recovery. You should not consume alcoholic beverages nor drive for 24 hours after the exam.

Colonoscopy is a safe and common procedure. However, risks do exist. The most common complications include redness or swelling at the IV site. Usually this can be managed with local heat compresses. More serious risks of the procedure include medication reactions, bleeding, infection, or perforation. Perforation is an unexpected tear in the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. Perforation may require hospitalization, antibiotics, or surgery for correction. On occasion, the entire colon cannot be visualized due to poor cleansing of the bowel, scar tissue, or diverticular disease. Your colonoscopy may be discontinued if your physician does not feel it can be performed safely.

You will be asked to sign an informed consent on the day of your procedure.

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