A colonoscopy lets the physician look inside your entire large intestine, from the lowest part, the rectum, all the way up through the colon to the lower end of the small intestine. The procedure is used to look for signs of problems in the colon and rectum, including cancer.
The goal of the preparation is to clear your bowel of stool (fecal matter). There are a few ways to clean the bowel. You will be given detailed instructions by your doctor as to which method is best for you. These instructions include how you need to change your diet and what medications will be necessary to insure that your bowel is clean at the time of your colonoscopy. Follow these CLEAR LIQUID DIET INSTRUCTIONS.
For the colonoscopy, you will lie on your left side on the examining table. You will be given pain medication and a mild sedative to keep you comfortable and to help you relax during the exam. Your doctor will insert a long, thin, flexible, lighted tube, called a colonoscope, into your rectum and slowly guide it into your colon. The scope bends, so the doctor can move it around the curves of your colon and transmits images of the inside of the colon for your doctor to see. You may be asked to change position occasionally. The scope also blows air into your colon, which inflates the colon and improves visibility.
A colonoscopy takes 30 to 60 minutes. The sedative and pain medicine should keep you from feeling much discomfort during the exam. You will need to remain at the hospital for 2 to 3 hours, until your sedative wears off.
If anything abnormal is seen in your colon, such as a polyp or inflamed tissue, your doctor can remove all or part of it using instruments passed through the scope. The tissue (biopsy) is then
sent to a lab for testing.
Bleeding and puncture of the colon are possible, but uncommon. If there is bleeding in the colon, your doctor can control the bleeding by using a laser, a heat or electrical probe, or by injecting
medication. These procedures do not usually cause any pain. Some people might have a reaction to the sedatives or complication due to pre-existing heart or lung disease.
Drink only a clear liquid diet the day before your surgery. Liquids that you can see through at room temperature (about 78-72°) are considered clear liquids.