The most accurate test to detect colon polyps and colon cancer, as well as diagnose inflammatory bowel diseases.
What is colonoscopy?
Colonoscopy is the most accurate test to detect colon polyps and colon cancer, and the only test where polyps can be removed. During this procedure, a doctor examines the lining of your large intestine and rectum through a flexible tube called a colonoscope. The colonoscope is inserted into the anus and advanced slowly through the colon.
To produce the best results, you will drink a bowel cleansing preparation to help clean out your colon. Even if your stools are clear, it is important to take all of the colon prep as directed because your body is always making fluid and small polyps can hide behind this fluid.
What happens during a colonoscopy?
Plan to spend up to 2 hours at the endoscopy center the day of your colonoscopy. The procedure itself takes about 20 to 40 minutes to complete.
Before the procedure:
Your medical history will be reviewed with you by your health care team including a nurse, your gastroenterology physician and an anesthesia provider and an IV line will be placed.
During the procedure:
During your procedure the anesthesia provider will administer medications and monitor vital signs which is a process known as Monitored Anesthesia Care (MAC). While most patients sleep through the procedure, some remain awake and aware. The anesthesiologist and/or certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) will help determine the appropriate type of drug to be used during the procedure to keep you safe and comfortable. If abnormal tissue or polyps are found, the physician may remove them through the colonoscope for closer examination or biopsy.
What happens after the procedure?
The physician will talk with you about the initial results of your procedure and will prepare a full report for the healthcare provider who referred you for the colonoscopy. You may have some cramping or bloating after the procedure which is normal and should disappear quickly by passing gas. Any tissue samples or polyps removed during the procedure will be sent to a lab for evaluation. It may take 5-7 working days for you to be notified of the results by mail or through the Patient Portal.
You may resume most of your regular activities the day after the procedure. However, medication given during the procedure will prohibit you from driving for the rest of the day. You are also advised to avoid air travel for 24 hours following your procedure. You may resume your normal diet, but alcohol should be avoided until the next day after your procedure.
Are there possible complications with colonoscopy?
Although serious complications are rare, any medical procedure has the potential for risks. Risks from the procedure include perforation, or a tear through the lining of the colon, bleeding from a biopsy site, reaction to medications, heart and lung problems, and dental or eye injuries.
For more information:
Prepping for your colonoscopy (video)