A colonoscopy is a procedure in which the colon’s lining is inspected with a flexible instrument called a colonoscope. Your physician can visualize the lining on a television monitor, while you are comfortably sedated. Your doctor can use the procedure’s findings to help diagnose and treat many diseases affecting the colon.
Why Get a Colonoscopy?
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cause of death in both men and women in the United States. Studies show that patients who undergo colonoscopy screenings are 90% less likely to die of colorectal cancer.
During the screening, your gastroenterologist carefully inspects the entire lining of the colon for polyps. Polyps are growths within the colon that may develop into cancer if not removed. Not all polyps are considered pre-cancerous, but they must be examined under a microscope to determine whether they are pre-cancerous or benign, so all polyps found are removed for examination.
Routine colonoscopies that look for early signs of cancer should begin at age 45 for most people and earlier if there is a family history of colorectal cancer, a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease, or other risk factors. Any of our providers can advise you about how often you should get a colonoscopy.
When You Arrive at the Endoscopy Center
You will be greeted by our nursing staff, who will review your medical history and then insert an IV. You will then have a chance to discuss any questions with your doctor before the procedure begins. Immediately before the procedure, you will be given sedative medication, which will be administered by an anesthetist.
The procedure generally takes 20-30 minutes, and when you awaken in the recovery room, you’re allowed to have water before your departure. Your physician will discuss the results with you immediately after the procedure.
If polyps were removed or biopsies were taken, you will be instructed to call the office in approximately one week for the biopsy results. You may return to normal activities and work the following day. Your referring doctor will be informed of the procedure findings once the final biopsy report is available. There should be no pain following the procedure.
Driving is not permitted for 24 hours after a colonoscopy to allow the sedative time to wear off. Before the appointment, you should have plans for a ride home.
In Preparation for Your Colonoscopy
The process for preparing for a colonoscopy is called bowel prep. Generally, all solids must be emptied from the gastrointestinal tract by following a clear liquid diet for 1 to 3 days before the procedure.
To view bowel prep instructions click on the type of prep that your provider has recommended for your procedure from the list below:
Your provider will discuss the risks and benefits of a colonoscopy before the procedure and answer any questions.
Your Health and Safety Are Our Priority
As with any medical procedure, there are small risks involved. There is a rare (1 in 3,000) risk of a colon perforation (a puncture in the lining of the colon), which may require surgery to repair. Other rare risks include bleeding after a polyp is removed and heart or lung complications following the anesthesia used for the procedure.
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