What is a colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is a procedure that a gastroenterologist uses to visualize the inside lining of the rectum and the large intestine. A flexible tube with a light and video camera (an colonoscope) is inserted through the patient's bottom for the procedure. This is usually an outpatient procedure.

Will I be asleep?

Most likely. Patients are usually asleep for the test. There are few exceptions. The medicine that we give to help you fall asleep is not general anesthesia that is used during surgery. We have anesthesiologists give patients either Total Intravenous Anesthesia (TIVA) or, in some cases, "conscious sedation". Rarely, patients will have vague memories of the procedure

Why is a colonoscopy done and what can physicians do during the procedure?

Your doctor may choose to do a colonoscopy for many reasons. Some reasons are:

Procedures Performed

  • Evaluation of abdominal pain
  • Evaluation of diarrhea
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Change in bowel habits
  • In some cases, for constipation
  • Family history of colon cancer or polyps
  • Personal history of colon cancer or polyps
  • If you have a slide test that shows blood (called a Guaic Test)
  • Follow-up of ulcerative colitis or Crohn's Diseasev
  • Further evaluation of an abnormal x-ray

Medicare has now approved screening colonoscopy, which is done in patients over the age of 50 even if there are no symptoms. This is done to prevent colon cancer.

During the test, your physician can:

  • Look for colitis and other abnormalities of the lining of your bowel or intestine
  • Remove polyps
  • Stop internal bleeding by applying heat or injecting medications
  • Biopsies are also routinely taken to rule out infections, wheat allergy, cancers, and other conditions

What are the side effects of the procedure?

The procedure is very safe. Complications are uncommon. However, like all medical procedures, some complications can arise. Complications that can happen include:

  • Bleeding or Continued Bleeding (sometimes, it is not possible to stop a bleed through a colonoscopy and surgery might be required) Infection(s)
  • Perforation (a poked hole). This would be serious and might require surgery.
  • Infection at the IV site
  • Allergic reactions to medications given
  • Missing an ulcer, mass, or polyp.
  • Patients who have other underlying diseases can have complications of the underlying disease during the procedure

Overall, the procedure is extremely safe and complications are rare.

Do I need a ride after the test?

Yes. We also recommend that patients not work or make any significant decisions after the test. The medicines that we give during the test often make patients temporarily forgetful. Patients should plan to have someone with them at home for the rest of the day.

When will I know my test results?

There is some information the physician can give you right away after the test. If a biopsy has been taken, it might take up to a week for the physician to get those results back. The biopsy results will be shared with you at your follow-up appointment.

Colonoscopy Preps and Instructions

  • Halflytely Prep
  • MoviPrep
  • Suprep Prep
  • GoLYTELY or PEG-3350 Prep
  • Prepopik Prep