FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Colonoscopy vs. Sigmoidoscopy
Camera in a Pill
Why do I have to fill out papers and come to your office one-half
hour early for my first appointment?
There are several forms that need to be completed, some related
to insurance and some related to your medical history. Completion
of the medical history form helps your doctor to better diagnose
and manage your problem.
Why can’t you get records from my other doctors?
The records that come from other doctors’ offices are the property
of that physician’s office and only you can give authority to have
those records transferred. You must first sign a release form (available
at your referring physician’s office or our office) and ask that those
records be sent to us. The best way to ensure that your office visit
is the most productive is to bring your old records with you to
your first visit with us.
Will I feel pain during the procedure?
The majority of patients who undergo procedures, especially colonoscopy,
feel little to no discomfort. Moreover, the medications used for sedation
also create a temporary amnesia so most patients do not even remember the
procedure. Because the physician administering the medication has to
balance patient comfort with safety during conscious sedation, on occasion
there may some recollection of the procedure.
Why can’t I drive myself home if I’m awake when the procedure
The medication that is administered during the procedure can have
lingering effects for several hours after the procedure. For your
safety, our policy is to prohibit patients from driving for at least
12 hours after the procedure. Someone must drive the patient home.
Can I stay a few extra hours after my procedure and then drive
You cannot drive any vehicle until the day after the procedure since
the medication can linger in the system and can affect your driving
abilities. Someone must drive the patient home.
When will I get the results of the test?
Your doctor will be able to give you preliminary results immediately
following the procedure. If biopsies are taken it may take up
to two weeks for the results. If you do not receive
biopsy results within two weeks of the test you should call the
office for the results. If, however, biopsy results arrive sooner,
you will receive a message on the patient portal or a letter in the mail
with the biopsy results and subsequent recommendations.
What is virtual colonoscopy and can I get that instead?
Virtual colonoscopy is a technique designed to reconstruct three-dimensional
images of the colon using CAT scan. Studies
show that this technique may miss a significant percentage
of smaller polyps. Like traditional
colonoscopy, virtual colonoscopy requires you to cleanse the bowel just
as if you are having a colonoscopy. Furthermore, when polyps are
detected by virtual colonoscopy, you will need a traditional
colonoscopy to remove these polyps, thus resulting in two procedures.
Why did my doctor choose one colonoscopy preparation over another?
There are currently several commonly used preparations. The choice
of a preparation is based on a number of factors including the physician’s
experience with previous patients, patient preference, and the potential
side-effects of some of the preparations. It is important to note that some
medical conditions might warrant one type of preparation instead of another.
Please ask your doctor if you have any further questions about this.
If the procedure is scheduled late in the day, is the starting
time of the liquid diet any different on the day before?
No. This is outlined in the preparation sheet that is provided
for the procedure. It is recommended that you drink liquids until
four hours prior to the procedure. After that time please do not
drink or eat anything or you may not be able to undergo the procedure.
Why can I have cranberry juice but not red Jell-o or Kool Aid
during a preparation?
Jell-0 and Kool Aid have artificial colors that may discolor the
fluid in the colon and give the appearance of blood.
Cranberry juice doesn’t have artificial coloring so it won’t discolor
the preparation. Other fruit juices that are not red or other types
of Jello are acceptable to take on the day of the preparation.
Should I take my Metamucil or Citrucel prior to the colonoscopy?
It is recommended that you hold Metamucil, Citrucel and other fiber
products for one week prior to the procedure. This will allow for
a better result from the preparation.
What medications need to be stopped prior to the procedures?
Any herbal medications, especially St. John’s Wort and Ginkgo Biloba,
need to be stopped for two weeks prior to the procedure. Aspirin
does not need to be stopped. If you are on Plavix, Coumadin, or other blood thinners,
please inform the office staff. Also inform the office if you are taking
any medications for diabetes or weight loss medications such as
What is the difference between having a flexible sigmoidoscopy
and having a colonoscopy?
A sigmoidoscopy is a shorter test that requires less preparation,
but is less thorough. A colonoscopy requires greater preparation
the day before and sedation for the procedure, but provides a more
extensive examination of the colon. Please discuss this further with the physician
performing the procedure if you have any additional questions.
Why should I bother to have a sigmoidoscopy if it only looks
at part of the colon?
In the following situations, a sigmoidoscopy may be more appropriate
than a colonoscopy: 1) If the symptoms suggest that the problem
might be found in the lower part of the colon, a sigmoidoscopy might
provide an answer faster and with less preparation than a colonoscopy.
2) When active inflammation is suspected, it may be advisable to
start your evaluation with a sigmoidoscopy to determine the severity and extent
of the inflammation and to “chart the waters” because
colonoscopy in this situation may carry some risk. 3) In certain cases
such as acute or chronic diarrhea, a sigmoidoscopy may be adequate. Consult with your
doctor at Gastrointestinal Associates if you have further questions.
Camera in a Pill
Q. I heard about a new capsule that has a camera built into it. Will that replace the need for colonoscopy?
A. Gastrointestinal Associates currently offer capsule endoscopy, using an ingestible capsule which contains a miniature camera to film the gastrointestinal tract as the capsule passes through the intestine. This capsule may be helpful for some small intestinal conditions but does not replace colonoscopy for conditions in the colon (the large intestine). It does not allow removal of polyps or the ability to biopsy the colon. At your office visit, your doctor will offer further recommendations about this if it is determined you would benefit from the test.