Posted October 1, 2022 by Anusha ‐ 4 min read
A colonoscopy is a test that allows a healthcare provider to see inside your large intestine. This procedure is done with a flexible camera called a scope. This test is used to check out symptoms like bleeding, as well as look for polyps and possible signs of colon cancer.
What is a Colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is an outpatient procedure that is done to examine the inside of your large intestine (colon and rectum).
The examination uses an instrument called a colonoscope (sometimes called a scope).
This flexible instrument is very long and includes a camera and the ability to remove tissue (you won’t feel the tissue being removed).
A colonoscopy is commonly used to evaluate gastrointestinal symptoms, such as bleeding, abdominal pain or changes in bowel habits.
What can you eat and drink in the days before a colonoscopy?
Some providers may ask you to avoid corn, nuts, seeds and popcorn for at least three days before the procedure.
Others might suggest a low-fiber diet for two days before the colonoscopy.
The day before the procedure you will not be able to eat solid food or drink alcohol
You will be able to drink clear liquids, including water, black coffee, tea, ginger ale, apple juice, white grape juice and clear broths.
You can have JELL-O and Popsicles, but only those that are not red, blue or purple.
Drinking extra fluid will help you not become severely dehydrated.
You should not drink or eat anything at all for at least four hours before the colonoscopy.
Be sure to drink plenty of fluids the day before while you are doing your bowel prep.
If you are having your colonoscopy with general anesthesia, then you cannot drink anything after midnight on the night preceding your test.
Procedure of Colonoscopy
During the Colonoscopy procedure
You are asked to wear a hospital gown and an IV will be started.
The procedure can be done with conscious sedation, often referred to as
twilight, or deeper sedation referred to as
general anesthesia. You are given a pain reliever and a sedative intravenously (in your vein). You will feel relaxed and somewhat drowsy. This step means that the colonoscopy will not hurt.
You will lie on your left side, with your knees drawn up towards your chest.
A small amount of air is used to expand the colon so the doctor can see the colon walls.
You may feel mild cramping during the procedure. Cramping can be reduced by taking slow, deep breaths.
The colonoscope is slowly withdrawn while the lining of your bowel is carefully examined.
The procedure lasts about 30 minutes. It takes about 12 minutes to move the scope five or six feet and another 12 minutes to take it out. If there are polyps to remove, the procedure will take longer.
After the Colonoscopy procedure
You will stay in a recovery room for observation until you are ready for discharge. The amount of time that you are in recovery depends on whether or not you were sedated and what type of pain management medication you received.
You may feel some cramping or a sensation of having gas, but this should pass quickly.
Your responsible family member or friend will drive you home.
Avoid alcohol, driving and operating machinery for 24 hours following the procedure.
Unless otherwise instructed, you may immediately return to your normal diet. It’s recommended that you wait until the day after your procedure to resume normal activities.
The doctor performing your colonoscopy will tell you when it’s safe to resume taking your blood thinners or any other medications you might have stopped.
If polyps were removed or a biopsy was done, you may notice light rectal bleeding for one to two days after the procedure.
Can you have a colonoscopy while you have your period?
The answer to this question is yes. You might want to wear a tampon if you have your period.
Can you have colonoscopy when you are pregnant?
A pregnant woman should always consult her obstetrician before having any kind of procedure.
If you are having a colonoscopy for screening, it is best to wait after pregnancy.
However, colonoscopy is generally believed to be safe during pregnancy.