You will change into a gown and be fitted with an IV and other monitoring devices that will keep track of your vital signs. The IV will allow the doctor and his or her staff to administer sedation throughout the procedure.
During the procedure
For the procedure itself, you'll lay on your side, and once the sedation takes effect, you won't remember much else. While you are sedated, the doctor will insert a long, hose-like instrument called a colonoscope into your anus and through the natural cavity of your rectum and colon. The colonoscope is fitted with a light, a camera, and other instruments that the doctor will use to examine your colon for:
Inflammation (swelling and/or redness)
Other precancerous lesions and potential cancer
Other signs of digestive problems
The procedure also allows the doctor to remove polyps before they become cancerous and take other small samples, or biopsies, for lab analysis. Remember that there are no nerve endings in the lining of the colon. Biopsies and polyp removal should be a relatively painless process. If you have any questions about your procedure, contact your healthcare provider.
After the procedure
After the colonoscopy, you will be taken to a recovery room where you can rest until the sedation partially wears off. Once you are awake, your healthcare provider will speak to you about the results of the colonoscopy. Any polyps or other lesions that are removed or biopsied will be sent to a lab for analysis.
You may feel some bloating from the procedure and pass some gas. These symptoms should subside within a few hours.
Don't plan on driving or operating any machinery until after you've had a
full night's sleep.
Once you get home:
Plan on resting for the remainder of the day
Ease back into eating after your colonoscopy. Start with a small, light
meal and work gradually back up to your normal diet
Anus: The final opening at the end of the digestive tract
Biopsy: A tissue or fluid sample removed from the body for lab analysis
Inflammation: Any bodily response that causes swelling, pain, redness, and/or loss of function
IV: Short for intravenous line, a device used to administer fluids directly through the bloodstream
Lesion: Any change in the appearance of an organ or body part that suggests injury
Colon: The part of the large intesine between the cecum and the rectum
Colonoscope: A long, hose-like instrument fitted with a light, a camera, and other attachments that doctors use to examine the colon
Colonoscopy: A routine, safe, and relatively painless procedure that allows doctors to literally see the lining of the colon
Hydration: The introduction of fluid into the body, normally through drinking
Polyp: Any small mass of abnormal tissue that sticks out from the wall of a body part or organ
Rectum: The chamber of the large intestine directly above the anus
Sedation: Relaxed, sometimes unconscious state achieved with tranquilizing medications