Colonoscopy is the visual examination of the large intestine (colon) to identify and/or correct a problem using a lighted flexible video endoscope. The video endoscopes use a tiny, optically sensitive computer chip at the end. Electronic signals are transmitted up the scope to a computer which displays the image on a large video screen. There is an open channel in the scope that allows other instruments to be passed in order to perform certain procedures such as polyp removal and biopsy to obtain small tissue samples for microscopic analysis.
Colonoscopy is an important tool in the prevention and early detection of colon disease and abnormalities such as:
- Colon cancer (a serious but highly preventable cancer)
- Polyps (fleshy tumors which are usually the forerunners of colon cancer)
- Colitis (chronic recurrent inflammation of the colon)
- Diverticulosis (pockets along the intestinal wall that form over time and can become infected)
- Rectal bleeding
- Chronic diarrhea, constipation, or change in bowel habits
- Anemia (diminished red blood cell count)
- Abdominal symptoms such as pain or discomfort, including abnormal weight loss
Preparing for the exam
The preparation for the exam varies based on physician preference. To obtain the full benefits of the exam, the colon must be clean. You will receive instructions from your doctor on how to do this. It may involve drinking a solution, or taking a series of pills, which will flush the colon clean. The physician will advise you of specific dietary restrictions and instructions prior to the exam. The physician will give you instructions on the use of regular medications during the preparation time. It is very important that the preparation be completed as prescribed. This will allow for clear visualization of the large intestine.
The day of the procedure
- Wear clean, loose, comfortable clothing and low-heeled shoes to the surgical center.
- Do not wear jewelry (including earrings and body piercing), or bring valuables to the surgical center.
- Bring your insurance card(s) with you.
- Bring your reading glasses with you.
- Bring a complete list of all of your medications, including dosages.
- You cannot drive following the procedure, and need a responsible adult to drive you home. For your safety, this policy is strictly adhered to. You may only take a taxi if a responsible adult accompanies you.
- You can expect to be at the surgical center for a minimum of two hours.
- Following the procedure, when at home, you need to be accompanied by a responsible adult.
- You may eat and drink normally unless otherwise instructed by your physician.
- You cannot consume alcohol, drive, work, operate large machinery, or make important decisions for 24 hours.
- If a biopsy or sample is taken, the physician will receive results in one week, and contact you accordingly by letter or telephone call.
Can I take my medication before the procedure?
You can take all your medications; however, your physician may modify your specific medication regimen.
What can I eat after I leave?
Generally diets are not restricted following the procedure.
Am I going to feel anything during the procedure?
Most endoscopic procedures are done under what is called "conscious" or "moderate" sedation. This involves giving you one or more medications through an intravenous (IV) line. This type of sedation causes you to become drowsy and relaxed, and you may sleep during the procedure, not consciously aware of what is occurring. In addition, some medications produce a temporary short-term amnesia effect. Therefore, you may not remember anything that occurs during and sometimes for a short time after the procedure.
You will be able to breathe on your own and follow simple commands. For most patients, this sedation is more than adequate for their procedure. If you drink moderate to large quantities of alcohol, take sleeping pills, or take anti-depressants or pain pills on a regular basis, this can alter the efficacy of the sedative. Be sure to discuss this with your physician prior to the day of your procedure.
How will I feel after my procedure?
Upon the completion of your procedure you will be transported to the recovery area until you are ready to be discharged from the center, generally about 30 minutes. Since you have received sedation during the procedure, it is essential that you have appropriate transportation to and from the center. For you safety you will not be allowed to drive yourself home.
Will I be able to drive after my surgery?
If you are having a procedure under moderate sedation, with the exception of local anesthesia, you cannot drive, and must be accompanied home by a responsible adult. This policy is for your safety, and is strictly adhered to. You cannot take a taxi home, unless accompanied by a responsible adult.
When will I get my results?
Your physician will usually be able to tell you how well your procedure went and possibly some preliminary findings prior to your discharge. If tissue samples were obtained, your physician's office should be in contact with you in a few days with the results. Contact your physician's office if you have any questions about your results.
Will I be billed separately by the Pathologist?
You will be billed separately by the pathologists for their professional fees. These fees are not included in the surgical center facility fees. If you have any questions regarding this charges, please call (915) 545-5300.