What is a Colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is a procedure that enables a gastroenterologist to evaluate the inside of the colon, which is the large intestine. The colonoscope is a long flexible tube with about a 1/2 inch thick diameter. The tube also has a camera and a source of light on its tip. The tip of the scope is inserted into the rectum and slowly advanced through the colon. The scope bends so the doctor can move through the curves of the colon. The scope also blows little puffs of air, which expand the colon and allow the doctor to clearly see the inside of your colon. The procedure usually takes 30-60 minutes to complete.
During the procedure, the doctor does have the ability to remove or biopsy any abnormality.
How to prepare for a Colonoscopy
There will be some diet or fluid restrictions before the procedure is performed. It is important to follow your doctors instructions strictly and ask questions for understanding. You will be asked to follow a low fiber diet 2-3 days before the procedure-see attached below and will be asked to follow a clear liquid diet the entire day before the procedure-see attached clear liquid diet instructions. You can not eat anything after midnight the night before the day of your procedure. You will also be asked to take colonoscopy prep to help clean out your colon, so that your colon will be empty at the time of the procedure. You will need to arrange to have someone bring you in for the procedure, stay with you throughout the entire procedure, and drive you back home because you will receive a sedative during the procedure. It is also unsafe for the patient to drive or operate heavy machinery for 8 hours after the procedure.
What to expect after the procedure
After your colonoscopy, you may feel some cramping or a sensation of having gas, but this usually passes quickly. You can also resume your normal diet unless otherwise specified by your doctor. Read your discharge instructions very carefully. Ask questions or make a list of questions for your driver to ask the doctor to make sure you have an understanding of any special instructions from your doctor. Certain medications like blood thinners may need to be avoided temporarily if any abnormality was removed or any biopsy was done.
You should seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of the below symptoms after the procedures completion:
Your symptoms are worse than before the test
Feeling dizzy or faint
Sharp pains in your abdomen
Blood in your stools
Unable to eat or drink
Urinating less than usual or not at all