Colonoscopy lets your doctor examine the lining of your large intestine (colon) for abnormalities by inserting a thin flexible tube, as thick as your finger, into your anus and slowly advancing it into the rectum and colon. This instrument, called a colonoscope, has its own lens and light source and it allows your doctor to view images on a video monitor.
Your doctor will tell you what dietary restrictions to follow and what cleansing routine to use. In general, the preparation consists of either consuming a large volume of a special cleansing solution or clear liquids and special oral laxatives. The colon must be completely clean for the procedure to be accurate and complete, so be sure to follow your doctor's instructions carefully.
Talk with your doctor about if you will need sedatives for your procedure. If so you’ll need to have someone else drive you home afterward and should plan on taking the entire day off from work. If you’re a parent with small kids at home, try to arrange to have someone stay with you that day to help take care of them so you can rest.
What to Expect During a Colonoscopy
Colonoscopy is well-tolerated and rarely causes much pain. You might feel pressure, bloating or cramping during the procedure. Your doctor might give you a sedative to help you relax and better tolerate any discomfort.
You will lie on your side or back while your doctor slowly advances a colonoscope through your large intestine to examine the lining. Your doctor will examine the lining again as he or she slowly withdraws the colonoscope. The procedure itself usually takes 15 to 60 minutes, although you should plan on two to three hours for waiting, preparation and recovery.
In some cases, the doctor cannot pass the colonoscope through the entire colon to where it meets the small intestine. Although another examination might be needed, your doctor might decide that the limited examination is sufficient.
What to Expect After a Colonoscopy
Your physician will explain the results of the examination to you, although you'll probably have to wait for the results of any biopsies performed.
If you have been given sedatives during the procedure, someone must drive you to our office, stay in the office during your procedure and drive you home after your procedure. Even if you feel alert after the procedure, your judgment and reflexes could be impaired for the rest of the day.
You might have some cramping or bloating because of the air introduced into the colon during the examination. This should disappear quickly when you pass gas.
You should be able to eat after the examination, but your doctor might restrict your diet and activities, especially after polypectomy.