A colonoscopy is a medical procedure that allows a doctor to examine the inside of the large intestine (colon and rectum) for abnormalities. It’s an important screening tool for colon cancer, polyps, and other diseases. During a colonoscopy, the doctor looks for polyps, abnormal growths, and other signs of illness.
The procedure begins with a preparation process. Depending on the type of colonoscopy, you may need to take a laxative to help clear your colon of stool, or take antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection. The day before the procedure, you may need to follow a liquid diet and avoid certain foods and drinks.
When you arrive for the colonoscopy, the doctor will give you medication to help you relax. You will then be asked to lie on your left side on the examining table. The doctor will use a long, flexible, tubular instrument called a colonoscope to examine your colon. 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.
During the procedure, the doctor may take samples of tissue for biopsies or remove polyps. You may feel mild cramping during the procedure. You can reduce the cramping by taking slow, deep breaths. The entire procedure usually takes less than 30 minutes.
After the procedure, you will be monitored for a short time before you are allowed to go home. You may experience some mild cramping, bloating, or gas for a few hours afterward. Most people can return to their normal activities the next day.
A colonoscopy is an important tool for identifying and treating abnormalities in the large intestine. The procedure is safe and relatively comfortable, and it could save your life by catching a serious illness early. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns about the procedure.
What to Expect After a Colonoscopy
As you prepare for your procedure, you may have a few questions about what to expect after your colonoscopy.
To start, it’s important to keep in mind that you won’t have all the immediate results after your colonoscopy. Any biopsies for histology taken during the colonoscopy will usually require a later appointment. There are a few steps you can take to ensure a successful and comfortable recovery.
First, you will be taken to a recovery room for observation for about 30 minutes. During this time, you may feel some cramping or gas-like sensations, but this usually passes quickly. Afterwards, you should be able to resume your normal diet.
It’s also important to read your discharge instructions carefully. If biopsies were taken or polyps were removed, certain medications, such as blood thinning agents, may need to be avoided temporarily.
Although very rare, complications such as bleeding and puncture of the colon can sometimes occur after a colonoscopy. If you experience any of the following symptoms, it’s important to contact your doctor right away: excessive or prolonged rectal bleeding, severe abdominal pain, fever, or chills.
Overall, a successful colonoscopy requires proper preparation and a thorough recovery. By following your doctor’s instructions and understanding the basics of what to expect after your colonoscopy, you can help ensure that you have an easy and stress-free procedure.