A flexible fiberoptic tube (colonoscope) is passed through the rectum into the lower intestinal tract. This enables the physician to view the lining of the rectum and all parts of the large intestine (colon).
In order for the doctor to have a clear view of the colon, it is important that the colon be completely free of stool. Therefore, you must carefully follow the special instruction sheet that you have been given concerning diet and laxatives. Herbal products must be stopped two weeks before the examination. It is also important to stop using fiber supplements (such as Metamucil) and iron containing preparations for one week before the colonoscopy
If you take daily medication, ask the doctor if you may take your morning dose with just a swallow of water.
Be sure to let the doctor or G.I. nurse know if you are allergic to any drugs.
If you are a medicine controlled diabetic please check with your family doctor for directions on how to manage your diabetic medicine while doing the preparation.
You will be asked to sign a consent form to authorize the doctor to perform the examination. All dentures and contact lenses must be removed just prior to the start of the examination.
You must make arrangements for a companion to accompany you and wait for you in the reception area because YOU WILL NOT BE ALLOWED TO DRIVE AFTER THE PROCEDURE. Medication is given that may affect your reflexes and judgment for up to 12 hours after the procedure. The procedure will not be done if you have not arranged for appropriate transportation.
What happens during the procedure?
After any questions you have are answered, a medication will be given by needle into your vein. This medication will make you feel sleepy and relaxed. You will be asked to turn on your left side and the room will be darkened.
The doctor will then insert the flexible colonoscope tube into your rectum and advance it through your colon, examining the lining thoroughly. The procedure is usually tolerated well and rarely causes pain. Many people even fall asleep during the examination. You may feel some gas or some abdominal cramping due to the air which the doctor will be injecting into your colon. This is normal, but if you feel uncomfortable, please tell the nurse. You may be asked to change position to help with the passage of the colonoscope Fluoroscopy (X-Ray) equipment may be used to evaluate the scope’s position. This examination usually takes about 20 minutes to an hour.
Often a biopsy (tiny bit of tissue) may be taken for microscopic examination. If you have a polyp, it may be removed by electrocautery through the scope. You will not feel discomfort when the biopsy is taken or when the polyp is removed.
Are there any complications?
Colonoscopy and polypectomy are safe and associated with very low risk when performed by a physician who has been specially trained and is experienced in the colonoscopy procedure.
Occasionally, localized irritation of the vein may occur at the site of the medication injection. You may use warm soaks to this area for relief if necessary. If you notice excessive pain, redness or warmth at the injection site, please notify the doctor.
Report any fever, abdominal pain or rectal bleeding to the doctor.
In the rare event of a medical need during and/or after the procedure, you may require admission to the hospital.
Why is Colonoscopy Necessary?
Colonoscopy is a valuable tool to:
Confirm and study in detail abnormalities suspected by Barium Enema X-Rays.
Identify the cause of rectal bleeding and changes in bowel habits.
Diagnose, treat and follow-up conditions such as polyps and colitis.
Colonoscopy is of the greatest importance in controlling colon cancer by removing polyps (pre-malignant fleshy growths) easily and safely without abdominal surgery.