What is it?
Colonoscopy is a procedure that enables your physician to look inside your large intestine, up through the colon, to the lower portion of the small intestine. The procedure is used to check for early signs of cancer in the colon and rectum and allows your physician to see ulcers, abnormal growths, and diagnose the causes of other bowel problems.
How do I prepare?
You may have to be on a liquid diet for one to three days before your test. The diet would consist of fat-free broth, water, plain coffee and tea, and diet drinks. You can have gelatin or popsicles in any color except red.
In order for your colonoscopy to be safe and thorough, your colon must be completely empty. You will take laxatives the night before your test.
You will not be allowed to drive home after the procedure because of sedatives you will take prior to the procedure, so arrange for someone to come with you to drive you home.
What can I expect?
You will be given pain medication and a mild sedative prior to the exam. These medications will help you relax and keep you comfortable during the exam. You will lie on your left side on the examining table. Your physician will insert a long, flexible, lighted tube into your rectum and slowly guide it into your colon. The tube is called a colonoscope. It contains a tiny camera that will transmit an image of the inside of your colon so your physician can examine the lining. You may be asked to change position occasionally to help the physician move the scope. The scope also blows air into your colon to inflate it and help the physician see better.
If anything abnormal is seen in your colon, like a polyp or inflamed tissue, the physician can remove all or part of it using tiny instruments passed through the scope. The tissue is sent to a lab for testing. If there is bleeding in the colon, the physician can pass probes or inject special medicines through the scope to stop the bleeding.
The exam generally takes 30 to 60 minutes. You will need to stay at the facility for one to two hours until the sedative wears off.