All About Colonoscopy: Preparation and Procedure
What to expect before, during and after your colonoscopy.
Your comfort is important to us. As you prepare for your colonoscopy — a visual examination of the lining of the rectum and colon using a flexible fiber-optic endoscope — we want you to know exactly what to expect.
How to prepare for your procedure.
The rectum and colon must be completely empty in order to perform the colonoscopy. Follow your doctor's specific preparation instructions, which may include:
- An oral preparation the day before your procedure
- A clear liquid diet the day before your procedure
- Nothing to eat or drink three hours before your procedure
- A responsible adult to accompany you to your appointment, stay for the duration of the procedure and escort you home afterward
It is essential that you follow your doctor's instructions fully — if any of the necessary preparations are not met, you may be asked to reschedule the procedure for a later date.
How the procedure works.
We may ask that you arrive one hour prior to your scheduled time in order to adequately prepare for your colonoscopy. Before your exam begins, an intravenous (IV) line will be placed in your arm to deliver medications for comfort during the procedure. We will continually check your blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen via a monitor.
For the duration of the procedure, you will be on your left side. Using an endoscope, our team will closely examine the lining of the rectum and colon. If necessary, your doctor will remove any polyps and may obtain biopsies.
During the procedure, you may experience a sensation of pressure, gas, bloating or cramping. One of our experienced nurses will remain by your side and monitor your comfort level.
Once the area has been viewed and any tissue samples taken, the endoscope will be removed. The procedure usually lasts between 15 and 60 minutes. In rare instances, the entire colon may not be well visualized due to difficulties in advancing the scope or stool still present. In this case, your doctor may need to repeat the procedure at a later date or discuss an alternative treatment plan.
What to expect after your procedure.
Due to the sedation effects of the medication you received, your doctor may talk to your loved ones or speak with you at a later time. Your post-procedure discussion may involve a phone call from your doctor or a follow-up visit at your doctor's office.
We know you will be awaiting the results of your exam and we will do our best to get them as swiftly as possible. Please note that it may take several days to a week before your doctor receives biopsy results.
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View doctors specializing in gastroenterology in San Diego.
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