Colonoscopy

The colonoscopy is performed by a doctor experienced in the procedure and lasts approximately 30-60 minutes. Medications will be given into your vein to make you feel relaxed and drowsy. You will be asked to lie on your left side on the examining table. During a colonoscopy, the doctor uses a colonoscope, a long, flexible, tubular instrument about 1/2-inch in diameter that transmits an image of the lining of the colon so the doctor can examine it for any abnormalities. The colonoscope is inserted through the rectum and advanced to the other end of the large intestine.

The scope bends, so the doctor can move it around the curves of your colon. You may be asked to change position occasionally to help the doctor move the scope. The scope also blows air into your colon, which expands the colon and helps the doctor see more clearly.You may feel mild cramping during the procedure. You can reduce the cramping by taking several slow, deep breaths during the procedure. When the doctor has finished, the colonoscope is slowly withdrawn while the lining of your bowel is carefully examined.

During the colonoscopy, if the doctor sees something that may be abnormal, small amounts of tissue can be removed for analysis (called a biopsy), and abnormal growths, or polyps, can be identified and removed. In many cases, colonoscopy allows accurate diagnosis and treatment without the need for a major operation.

What happens during colonoscopy?

Colonoscopy is well-tolerated and rarely causes much pain. You might feel pressure, bloating or cramping during the procedure. You will likely receive a sedative to help you relax and better tolerate any discomfort.

You will lie on your side or back while your doctor slowly advances a flexible tube (colonoscope) through your large intestine to examine the lining. The whole procedure itself usually takes 45 to 60 minutes, although you should plan on two to three hours for waiting, preparation and recovery.

What happens after a colonoscopy?

Your physician will explain the results of the examination to you, although you’ll have to wait for the results of any biopsies performed. If you were given sedatives during the procedure, someone must drive you home and stay with you. Even if you feel alert after the procedure, your judgment and reflexes could be slow for the rest of the day. You may have some cramping or bloating because of the air introduced into the colon during the examination. This should disappear quickly when you pass gas.

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