Your physician will order a bowel prep regimen that is appropriate for your medical history. It consists of oral laxatives and clear liquids and usually is started the day before the scheduled procedure. You will also be instructed not to eat or drink anything after midnight before your exam. The colon must be completely empty for the exam to accurate and complete. Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions carefully. On occasion, a colonoscopy has had to be rescheduled because of poor bowel prep. If you are passing clear or green liquid with brown flecks prior to the exam, it is a good indication your colon has been adequately cleaned. If this is not the case, you should call your physician’s office for further instructions.
You should always check with your physician about taking any medication the day of your exam. This includes over the counter medications and herbal supplements. You may be advised to stop taking any blood thinners (such as aspirin, vitamin E, ibuprofen or Coumadin) two weeks prior to the exam, or modify the dose (insulin, oral hypoglycemic, blood pressure and cardiac medications) the day of the exam. Please bring a list of ALL medications you take with you.
Be sure to inform your physician if you require antibiotics before dental or similar procedures. This may also be required before a colonoscopy or endoscopy.
During the Procedure
After registering, you will be brought to a private exam room where a specially trained nurse and your physician will review your medical history, explain the procedure and answer your questions prior to the procedure. As most patients prefer to be sedated for the exam, and IV site will be established and your vital signs will be monitored closely. You will be placed on your left side, and after sedation is achieved, the physician will pass the scope slowly along your colon while watching a TV monitor. The scope is passed approximately 80 cm end of the large intestines and where the small intestines begin. Air and water are used to slightly inflate the bowel and wash away any residual flecks so that the lining of the intestines can be seen clearly. A sample of tissue (biopsy) may be taken or a polyp may be removed (polypectomy) during this procedure and is painless. The tissue sample will be sent to the pathology lab for evaluation. Results are usually available within a week. The actual procedure usually takes 15 – 20 minutes. The colonoscopy is usually well tolerated and rarely causes discomfort.
After the Procedure
You will be brought to a recovery room where your vital signs will be monitored for a brief period and you will be discharged with a family member or a friend. You should allow 2- 3 hours for the total visit.
Discharge instructions will be reviewed with you prior to the start of the exam and will be given to you on discharge from the unit. The results of your exam and any other instructions will be written upon completion of your procedure.
You must be discharged with a person who will drive you home and assure your well being after arriving home. Please arrange to have someone stay with you or be accessible if a problem arises after discharge. This is especially important for elderly patients and those with significant medical histories, such as diabetes and cardiac conditions.
If you have been sedated, you will be instructed not to drive or drink alcohol for the rest of the day. Patients are also advised not to do any activities that require mental acuity or physical activity, such as sports, legal decisions, or using power tools. You should rest at home with light activity for the remainder of the day.
- In most cases, patients may resume their usual diet immediately. If your doctor advises differently, this will be noted on the discharge instructions.
- If you experience any “gas” discomfort after the exam, this is normal. Air is used to dilate the bowel during the exam. You may use a heating pad or ho water bottle, lie on your left side or walk around to relieve it.
- You may resume your usual medications unless indicated on the discharge instructions. If biopsies were done or a polyp removed, your doctor may advise holding blood thinners, such as aspirin, Ibuprofen and coumadin for several days to prevent bleeding.