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Colonoscopy (cont.)

How Long Does a Colonoscopy Procedure Take?

  • On the day of the colonoscopy, the patient may be asked to arrive early to prepare for the test itself, and to ask further questions. The patient will be asked the following questions:
    • When did you last eat?
    • What allergies do you have?
    • Did you remember to take all your bowel preparation medication?
  • Once the patient has changed into an examination gown, vital signs (blood pressure, heart rate, respiration rate, and temperature) will be monitored and an intravenous line (IV) will be placed to sedate the patient, and provide pain medication during the test, if necessary. Although the patient will not be fully asleep during the procedure, these medications will produce a sleepy state (sedation) and make the test more comfortable.
  • The procedure will begin with the patient lying flat on the left side. The colonoscope, is lubricated to allow it to enter the anus. For a thorough investigation, air is required to gently open the folded colon. This may cause a temporary uncomfortable bloated sensation. When the doctor applies gentle pressure, the colonoscope moves further into the colon and is slowly advanced until the entire colon is seen.
  • The colonoscope has a tiny camera on the end of it, which is connected to a monitor. This allows the physician to see the colon through the tip of the instrument even when it is far inside the body. As the scope passes the course of the colon, the normal turns and contours of the colon may impede the passage of the scope. The patient may be asked to change positions for better visualization. It is common for fluid and gas to escape through the rectum and anus; this should be expected. The entire procedure can take from 30 minutes up to 1 hour.
  • In addition to simply viewing the bowel wall, the colonoscope has special attachments that allow the doctor to collect tissue samples or biopsies, remove small growths, and stop bleeding with laser, heat, or medication.

What Do I Do After My Colonoscopy?

You will go home later during the day after you have your colonoscopy. Colonoscopy usually is performed without checking into the hospital (as an outpatient procedure). You will be monitored and observed in the doctor's office until the side effects of the medications have worn before you can go home. The side effects of the medication may cause symptoms like nausea, bloating, and drowsiness, that may continue for some time after the procedure. You should make arrangements for someone to come and pick you up at the doctor's office and take you home because of these side effects. Recovery time after the procedure can vary. If there are no complications it can range from a few hours to a few days.

Your doctor will give you a follow-up appointment. The final results of the test are generally available at that appointment, although biopsy results may take some time. The doctor may give you specific instructions in regard to what symptoms to monitor, which ones are normal, and which are more serious. You also may receive information in regard to your diet after a colonoscopy.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/11/2017
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Colonoscopy - Procedure

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Colonoscopy - Side Effects

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

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Colonoscopy enables visual inspection of the entire large bowel from the distal rectum to the cecum.

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