What to Expect from a Colonoscopy

Doctor and Female Patient

Perhaps you’ve heard enough about a colonoscopy to know that this screening won’t be one of life’s most pleasant experiences. Nevertheless, this life-saving diagnostic exam allows a doctor to see inside the colon and rectum to screen for cancer and other abnormalities. If your doctor has recommended a colonoscopy, you might be wondering what you can expect. The following information helps explain the procedure:

Before the Colonoscopy
Most people will attest that the colonoscopy itself is not as uncomfortable as preparing for it. The National Institutes of Health explain that your doctor will most likely provide you with written instructions detailing your preparations for the procedure. You will probably have to follow a clear liquid diet for one to three days before your scheduled colonoscopy. This helps ensure that the gastrointestinal tract is free of solids. A laxative, enema or both will be necessary the night before your colonoscopy. Your doctor may also have to adjust the doses or temporarily have you stop taking any prescription medications or dietary supplements.

During the Colonoscopy
Cancer.net explains that, before the procedure begins, pain medication as well as a sedative will be used to help reduce any discomfort during the procedure. During the colonoscopy itself, a thin tube is inserted into the colon which contains a light and allows the doctor to view the area easily. If abnormalities are found, the doctor can take a biopsy or remove abnormal tissue.

After the Colonoscopy
Once your colonoscopy is complete, someone will have to drive you home because it takes several hours for the sedative to wear off. You should not drive anywhere yourself for at least 24 hours. You might feel bloated or pass gas while you recover, and you may notice a bit of blood in your first bowel movement. This is not uncommon, but you should tell your doctor if your stool contains large amounts of blood or blood clots.

Depending on your physician’s recommendation, adults over the age of 50 should be screened for colon cancer at least once every five to ten years. Denton Regional Medical Center offers a variety of diagnostic imaging services. Contact us online or call 1-855-477-DRMC for a physician referral.

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