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What to Expect During a Colonoscopy

What to expect during a colonoscopyIf you are recommended to have a colonoscopy, don’t worry: it is a 30 to 60 minute, low-risk, common procedure.

Here is what to expect:

1. A day or two before the procedure, patients are usually required to clean out their colon via a liquid diet and taking laxatives.

2. The day of the colonoscopy, you may be given a mild sedative and pain medication to help you relax. You will not be able to drive yourself home if you are given a sedative, so arrange for transportation ahead of time.

3. The actual test itself involves lying on your side while a long, flexible fiber-optic scope is guided into the rectum. This scope allows the doctor to examine the length of the large intestine for polyps and malignant growths. The flexibility of the scope allows it to move around the curves of the colon; the scope is also constructed so that air can be blown into the colon to inflate it so your doctor can better see the lining of your colon.

4. If the exam reveals abnormalities such as a polyp or inflamed tissue, your doctor can biopsy all or part of the questionable area using tiny instruments passed through the scope. The biopsy will then be sent to a lab for testing. If any bleeding occurs during a biopsy, your doctor can inject special medicines through the scope to stop the bleeding, or use a laser or similar instrument.

When you are finished, you will be expected to remain at the facility for another couple of hours until any sedatives mostly wear off. While bleeding and puncture of the colon are possible complications of colonoscopy, such complications are uncommon.

If you are nervous about getting a colonoscopy, remind yourself that any embarrassment or fear you may experience will only last a few minutes, while the benefits of early detection could add many years to your life.

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Reader Comments (2)

You left out the part about the fasting day will make you weak and feel sick. The purging pills will keep you up all night with violent diarrhea. You will need to be driven to the appt, and you will be so weak and in pain already that you can barely stand. My first colonoscopy only involved the GE doctor, no anesthesiologist, and the anesthesia barely worked and I was awake and screaming most of the time. Your article is irresponsible when it doesn't mention the 2 days of pain and nausea.

May 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDee

Dee, how sad it was such an awful experience for you! Weakness, pain, screaming – wow!

Perhaps the following may assist you in the future…to maintain energy during the fasting – make sure to consume adequate calories through broth, liquids, juices, and popsicles. Some ways to reduce the pain & bloating include: gasless colonoscopies and slowly returning to eating post the procedure for the first 1-2 meals (soups and soft foods preferably). And they should have increased the sedation if you were in pain, I’m sure you won’t let that happen again!

Unfortunately, the prep to clean the bowel is terrible (I have only done the liquid type, will have to ask about the pill)! But, a clean colon is a must in order for the doc to see.

I was fortunate to have a cancerous tumor found early; so, I now have a colonoscopy every five years. To help myself tolerate it better, I reframe the situation – the prep is just a means. Therefore, I disagree with your statement that Dr. Weil’s article is irresponsible; as I do not believe that was his intent. I believe from his last two pieces about colonoscopies that he is trying to motivate us to have better colon health. In fact, it got me thinking, “When am I due for my next one?”

May 17, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermorecarrotsplz

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