Understanding What a Colonoscopy Is and Why to Get One
A colonoscopy is a relatively painless and usually a quick (30 minutes) procedure. It is performed at endoscopy centers and hospitals on an outpatient basis. Colonoscopy is a common procedure where the lining of the large intestine is examined, which includes the rectum and the colon all the way to the cecum. The cecum is where the small and large intestines meet.
Colonoscopies are done to check for abnormal growths that can turn into cancer, as well as diagnose other gastrointestinal problems such as inflammation and bleeding.
During the procedure the doctor uses an instrument called a colonoscope, a thin, flexible, lighted tube, inserted into the anus and through the colon. The colonoscope allows the doctor to inflate your colon with air, cleanse the surface lining with water, inspect the lining, take photos, take tissue samples, and remove polyps.
Colonoscopy is considered the best screening method. It is the only one that allows for the detection, removal and/or biopsy of abnormal tissue as soon as they are detected.
Finding cancerous polyps early or identify other problems in the colon or rectum can be the difference in life and death.
What can I expect the day of my procedure?
When you arrive the receptionist will call you up to check in. She will verify name, address, date of birth, insurance, etc. You will be asked to sign a few forms.
After registration you will be shown to the pre-procedure area where you will change into an examination gown. A nurse will review your medications, allergies and medical history and insert an IV.
Then you will proceed to a private procedure suite, and have a chance to speak with your doctor and the anesthesiologist. You will then be outfitted with several different devices that help monitor your vital signs, etc. during your procedure.
You will be asked to lay on your left side on the examination table. You are then given sedation through your IV and will start feeling the effects pretty quickly.
During your procedure if the doctor sees a polyp or other growth or lesion, he/she will remove it. The colon does not feel pinching or burning sensations, so you should not feel polyp (s) being removed.
Once the procedure is completed, you are moved to the recovery area. Your vital signs are monitored and if you had a colonoscopy we want to make sure you are passing air that was put in your colon during your procedure. After a little recovery time the doctor will come and tell you what was found and answer any additional questions you may have.
We recommend that the family member or friend that drove you be at the bedside when the procedure results are being discussed, as you may still be a little foggy from the sedation. Your doctor will also explain any follow up that he/she feels is needed. Patient records are marked for return in three, five or ten years. Our physician will send a letter to you with the results of any tissue sample that were taken within 7-10 days after your procedure.
The nurse will provide you with discharge instructions. Please read over these when you get home. They include things such as eating a normal first meal, any follow up instructions from the doctor and an emergency number if you should experience difficulties later in the day. Minor symptoms such as gas or bloating should disappear within 24 hours.
Remember you are not to drive or sign any legal documents after your procedure for the entire day, due to the sedation you received.