Colonoscopy is a procedure that enables the physician to examine the lining of the colon (large intestine) for abnormalities. It is done by inserting a thin flexible tube into the anus, and advancing it slowly into the rectum and colon.
Aside from the skill of the examining physician, the preparation is the most important factor in having a successful exam. The colon must be completely clean so that all surfaces can be adequately examined. The patient is given detailed instructions as to dietary restrictions on the days leading up to the exam and the laxative(s) that are required before the exam (colonscopy prep). These instructions should be followed carefully. No one wants to be asked to repeat an examination due to an inadequate preparation!
Most medications can be continued, but some will need to be stopped before the exam. Patients should discuss the need to stop any blood thinners prior to the exam (i.e. coumadin, plavix, pradaxa, aggrenox,etc). If a patient require antibiotics prior to a dental procedures, or has recently had a prosthetic procedure (i.e. knee, hip, heart valve), antibiotics may be required prior to the procedure. This should be discussed with your doctor or the office staff. Patients will receive printed instructions will these guidelines.
At the beginning of the procedure, an intravenous line is inserted so that fluid and medication can be administered. The procedure is painless. Upon completion, the patient is brought to the recovery area where some of the air, inserted during the procedure for better visualization, can be released. In rare occasions a complete exam cannot be accomplished and you will be advised of alternate plans.
How long will it take?
Allow 2 1/2-3 hours for the entire procedure from check-in to check-out. This period may be longer or shorter depending on findings during your exam.
This exam is being performed to examine the integrity of the colonic lining and to find, remove, or sample any abnormalities encountered. Sometimes biopsies will be taken, specimens removed (i.e. polyps) and sent out for pathological examination by a board certified pathologist. These biopsies will not cause any discomfort.
Polyps are growths from the lining of the colon. They can vary in size from very small to a few inches long. Most polyps are benign (non-cancerous). As a precaution, all samplings will be sent to a pathologist for close examination to see if there are any cancerous or precancerous features. This will take several days. The vigilant removal of polyps has led to an overall decrease in the incidence of colon cancer in the population.
After the colonoscopy, the physician will explain the results to you. Patients will need someone to drive them home.
Complications are very infrequent. Occasionally there is bleeding, perforation, or reaction to medications. Most problems can be dealt with conservatively. On extremely rare occasions, transfusions or even surgery will be needed. We ask patients to consult with us about abnormal symptoms afterwards (i.e. abdominal pain, bleeding fever, IV site redness etc.) so that it can be dealt with in a timely manner. The risks will be outlined on the consent form that the sign before the procedure.
This is considered a very safe procedure and the experience of your physician and his support staff are critical to add that extra level of confidence.