If you are over 50 years old, your doctor may have recommended you have a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy procedure checks for colon cancer and other abnormalities in the colon, intestine, and rectum.
What Is a Colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy procedure allows a doctor to examine the inside of your colon and rectum. This is done using a long, flexible tube with a camera and a light at the end.
The tube, called a colonoscope, is inserted into the anus and guided through the colon. The camera on the end of the colonoscope sends images to a monitor the doctor watches to check for abnormalities or signs of cancerous cells in the tissues.
Before the Procedure
Before your colonoscopy, the doctor will ask you to follow instructions to prepare your colon for the procedure. The preparation typically involves a clear liquid diet for a day or two before the colonoscopy procedure and drinking a bowel preparation solution to clean out your colon, allowing the doctor to see things more clearly.
You may also need to stop taking certain medications, such as blood thinners, for a few days before the procedure. Your doctor will give you specific instructions to follow and a date for the colonoscopy that allows you time to plan for the necessary changes in diet.
During the Procedure
During the colonoscopy, you will receive a sedative to help you relax and make you more comfortable. The sedative is typically administered through an IV in your arm so it works quickly, and the dose may be adjusted during the procedure if necessary.
You will lie on your side, and the doctor will insert the colonoscope and guide it through your colon. The procedure usually takes about an hour to complete.
After the Procedure
After the colonoscopy, you must rest in a recovery area until the sedative wears off. You may feel groggy and sleepy for a few hours after stopping the sedative in your IV. You will not be allowed to drive yourself home, so arrange for someone to take you to the appointment, stay with you, and then take you home once you are released.
It is common to experience mild cramping or bloating after the procedure, but this should go away within a few hours. You may also pass gas more frequently than usual. It is essential to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration and to avoid heavy meals until the next day.
The doctor may find polyps or other abnormalities during the colonoscopy and remove the polyps or take a tissue sample for further testing. Your doctor or the nursing staff will give instructions on any follow-up care you may need.
A colonoscopy may sound intimidating, but it is an essential medical procedure to help detect colon cancer and other abnormalities before they become life-threatening. If you have any questions or concerns about the colonoscopy, you should talk to your doctor before your appointment.
For more info, check out the site of a medical service that offers colonoscopy procedures.