10 Things to Expect During a Colonoscopy

ImageLet’s get right down to it shall we?

A colonoscopy is a commonly known procedure that could prevent colon cancer if performed in the early stages.  Both men and women should receive a colonoscopy by the age 50 and every ten years thereafter. That’s not asking for much especially when the overall procedure takes only 20 minutes to one hour.

So, let’s get right to it and find out what to expect during that hour…

Before exam, in doctors office…

1. You’ll wear a gown, and likely nothing else underneath.

2. A sedation is recommended so don’t be surprised if you do, or don’t receive one. This can come in the form of a pill or combined with an intravenous pain medication to minimize any discomfort.

Beginning of exam…

3. You will begin the exam by lying down on your side, on the exam table. Typically your knees will come to your chest as the doctor inserts a colonoscope into your rectum. (The scope is long enough to reach the entire length of your colon and contains a light and a tube, channel, which allows the doctor to pump air into your colon. The air inflates the colon, which provides a better view of the lining of the colon. When the scope is moved or air is introduced, you may feel abdominal cramping or the urge to have a bowel movement.

4. A video camera, attached to the tip of the colonoscope, will be recording this procedure. This cameras primary purpose is to send images to an external monitor so the doctor can study the inside of your colon. Note: The doctor can also insert instruments through the channel to take tissue samples (biopsies) or remove polyps or other areas of abnormal tissue.

After the exam…

5. The total amount of time it takes to recover from the sedative is approximately one hour, so you will need someone to take you home because it can take up to a day for the full effects of the sedative to wear off. Don’t drive or go back to work for the rest of the day.

6. If your doctor removed a polyp during your colonoscopy then you might be advised to eat a temporary special diet.

7. It is common to feel bloated or pass gas for a few hours after the exam, as the air clears from your colon. Walking may help relieve any discomfort.

8. Another commonality after a colonoscopy is to find a small amount of blood with your first bowel movement after the exam. Usually this isn’t cause for alarm.

9. Please consult your doctor if you continue to pass blood or blood clots or if you have persistent abdominal pain or a fever of 100 F (37.8 C) or higher.

10. Now rest. Your body could use a little R&R after a colonoscopy.

For more information on colonoscopy and colon cancer awareness, follow Gastro Health Center on Twitter and like us on Facebook for daily updates, tips and news!

Dr. Phil Kumar is board-certified in Gastroenterology and Internal Medicine. He is very active and involved in clinical research and is the Founder and Director of Discovery Clinical Research Center. Dr. Kumar’s area of clinical interest includes colon cancer, inflammatory bowel disease and hepatitis C.  

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