Colonoscopy is a procedure that enables the examination of the lining of the rectum and colon. It is usually done in the hospital or an endoscopic procedure room. A soft, bendable tube is gently inserted into the anus and advanced into the rectum and the colon. You will be referred to a Gastrointestinal/Endoscopic surgeon for the procedure.

A colonoscopy is recommended

  • as part of a routine screening for cancer
  • in patients with known polyps or previous polyp removal
  • before or after some surgeries
  • to evaluate a change in bowel habits or bleeding
  • to evaluate changes in the lining of the colon known as inflammatory disorder

What preparation is required?

The rectum and colon must be completely emptied of stool for the procedure. You will need to consume a special cleansing solution, clear liquids, laxatives and possibly enemas prior to the examination. Your surgeon or his staff will give you instructions regarding the cleansing routine to be used.

Follow your surgeon’s instructions carefully. If you do not complete the preparation, it may be unsafe to perform the colonoscopy and the procedure may have to be rescheduled. If you are unable to complete the preparation, contact your surgeon.

Most medications can be taken as usual. Medication use such as aspirin, Vitamin E, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, blood thinners and insulin should be discussed with your surgeon prior to the examination as well as any other medication you might be taking. If you require antibiotics prior to undergoing dental procedures, you may also require antibiotics prior to colonoscopy.

You will need to arrange for someone to drive you to and from the procedure. You will most likely be sedated during the procedure. Sedatives will affect your judgment and reflexes for the rest of the day. You should not drive or operate machinery or make important decisions until the next day.

What can be expected during a colonoscopy?

The procedure is usually well tolerated, but there may be a feeling of pressure, gassiness, bloating or cramping at times during the procedure. Your surgeon will give you medication through a vein to help you relax. You will be lying of your side or your back while the colonoscope is advanced through the large intestine. The lining of the colon is examined carefully with the instrument. The procedure usually lasts for 15 to 60 minutes.

What if my colonoscopy shows an abnormality?

If your surgeon sees an area that needs evaluation, a biopsy may be taken and submitted to a laboratory for analysis. Polyps are generally removed. The majority of polyps are benign (non-cancerous), but your surgeon cannot always tell by the appearance. Biopsies do not imply cancer, however, removal of the polyp is an important means of preventing colo-rectal cancer.

What happens after my colonoscopy?

Your surgeon will explain the results to you after your procedure or at a follow up visit. You may have some mild cramping or bloating from the air that was placed into the colon during the examination. This should quickly improve with the passage of the gas. You should be able to eat normally the same day and resume your normal activities after leaving the hospital. Do not drive or operate machinery until the next day, as the sedatives given will impair your reflexes.

If polyps were found during your procedure, you will need to have a repeat colonoscopy. Your surgeon will decide on the frequency of your colonoscopy exams.

If you have questions about the exam, follow-up, or results of your colonoscopy it is important to discuss them with your surgeon.


Wayne Memorial Hospital Jesup GA

Wayne Memorial Hospital in Jesup, Georgia