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Frequently Asked Questions about a Colonoscopy

At Connecticut Colon & Rectal Surgery, we make your health and comfort our top priority. We understand that a colonoscopy can be a daunting procedure, but rest assured that our team is here to support you every step of the way. We've compiled a list of commonly asked questions and answers about colonoscopies to help put your mind at ease. If you have any additional questions or concerns, don't hesitate to reach out to us. We're here to help.

01

What is a Colonoscopy?

Colonoscopy is an effective procedure to screen for colorectal cancer and colorectal polyps.  A colonoscopy is also used to diagnose abnormalities of the colon (large intestine) such as inflammatory bowel disease, diverticular disease, bleeding conditions and unexplained diarrhea.  A colonoscopy enables your doctor to examine your colon by inserting a flexible tube as thick as your finger into your anus and slowly advancing it into the rectum and colon.

02

What Preparations are Required?

Your doctor will tell you what dietary restrictions to follow and what cleansing routine to use.  In general, the preparation consists of a clear liquid diet the day before and morning of your colonoscopy as well as consuming a large volume of a special cleansing solution.  The colon must be completely clean for the procedure to be accurate and complete, so please make sure you follow your preparation instructions carefully and accurately. 

03

Can I Take My Current Medications?

Most medications can be continued as usual, but some medications can interfere with the preparation or the examination.  Inform your doctor about all medication and vitamins that you are currently taking, especially aspirin, blood thinners, insulin and iron products.  Also, make sure you mention all allergies, especially any allergies to medication.

If you require antibiotics prior to dental procedure, please make sure you notify your doctor of this.  In some cases you may need antibiotics prior to a colonoscopy as well. 

04

How Long is the Colonoscopy?  Why Do I Have to Arrive an Hour Early?

The colonoscopy itself usually takes 20-30 minutes but you will usually be at the facility for 2-3 hours.  When you arrive to the facility, you will review your medical history, medication and allergies with the nurse then you will proceed to give consent to the anesthesiologist.  An intravenous (IV) line will then be placed and you will have monitoring equipment attached.  After the colonoscopy, you will wake up fully from the anesthesia and be monitored for 30 minutes before it is safe for you to leave the facility. 

05

Why Can't I Drive Myself Home after the Colonoscopy?  Why Do I Need an Adult to Accompany Me if I Use a Bus or Taxi Service?

The sedative you receive for comfort during the colonoscopy may make you sleepy, forgetful or affect your reflexes after the colonoscopy.  You may be uncomfortable after the test and will be tired.  Remember, you will have had a night of little sleep before the colonoscopy.  For your safety you cannot drive, drive alcohol, or operate heavy machinery and an accompanying adult (age 18 or older) is necessary to make sure you get home safely.  If you do not have transportation with an adult, the colonoscopy will be cancelled and will need to be rescheduled.

06

Can I Take My Current Medications?

Most medications can be continued as usual, but some medications can interfere with the preparation or the examination.  Inform your doctor about all medication and vitamins that you are currently taking, especially aspirin, blood thinners, insulin and iron products.  Also, make sure you mention all allergies, especially any allergies to medication.

If you require antibiotics prior to dental procedure, please make sure you notify your doctor of this.  In some cases you may need antibiotics prior to a colonoscopy as well. 

07

What Happens During a Colonoscopy?

Colonoscopy is generally very well tolerated.  Anesthesia is administered at all the facilities which allow for a comfortable patient experience.

 

You will lie on your side or back while your doctor slowly advances a colonoscope through your large intestine to examine the lining.  Your doctor will examine the lining again as they slowly withdraw the colonoscope.  The procedure itself usually takes 15 to 30 minutes, although you should plan on two to three hours for pre-admission, preparation, and recovery.

 

In some cases, the doctor cannot pass the colonoscope through the entire colon to where it meets the small intestine.  Although another examination might be needed, your doctor may decide that the limited examination is sufficient.

08

What if the Colonoscopy Shows Something Abnormal?

If your doctor thinks an area needs further evaluation, they will pass an instrument through the colonoscope to obtain a biopsy (a sample of the colon lining) to be analyzed.  Biopsies are used to identify many conditions, and your doctor might order one even if they do not suspect cancer.  If a colonoscopy is being performed to identify sites of bleeding, your doctor might control the bleeding through the colonoscopy by placing a hemoclip.  Your doctor may also find polyps during the colonoscopy, which will be removed during the examination and sent out to the laboratory.

09

What are Polyps?  Why are They Removed?

Polyps are abnormal growths in the lining of the colon that are usually noncancerous (benign).  Polyps vary in size from a tiny dot to several inches.  Your doctor cannot always tell a be benign polyp form a malignant (cancerous) polyp by its outer appearance.  Therefore, your doctor will remove the polyp and send it out to the laboratory for analysis.  Cancer usually begins in polyps, removing the polyps is an important mean of preventing colorectal cancer.

10

How are Polyps Removed?

Your doctor will destroy tiny polyps by fulguration (burning), by removing them with wire loops called snares, or with biopsy instruments.  Your doctor may use a technique called “snare polypectomy” to remove larger polyps.  By using “snare polypectomy”, your doctor will pass a wire loop through the colonoscope and will remove the polyp from the intestinal wall using an electrical current. 

11

What are the Possible Complications of a Colonsocopy?

Colonoscopy and polypectomy are generally safe when performed by doctors who have been specially trained and are experienced in these procedures.  One possible complication is a perforation, or tear, through the bowel wall that could require surgery.  Bleeding might occur at the side of biopsy or polypectomy, but it is usually self-limited.  Bleeding can stop on its own or be controlled through the colonoscope.  Some patients might have a reaction to the sedatives or complications from heart or lung disease.

 

Although complications after colonoscopy are rare, it’s important to recognize early signs of possible complications.  Contact your doctor then head to your nearest emergency room if you notice severe abdominal pain, fever and chills, or rectal bleeding of more than one-half cup (a little bit of blood goes a long way).  Please note that bleeding can occur several days after polypectomy.   

12

What Happens After a Colonoscopy?

After your colonsocopy, your physician will explain the results of the examination with your, although you will have to wait for the finalized results of any polyps were removed or if biopsies were taken.  Due to receiving sedatives during the colonoscopy, someone must drive you home and stay with you.  This person must be 18 years or older.  Even if you feel alert after the procedure, your judgment and reflexes could be impaired for the rest of the day.  You may experience some cramping or bloating post procedure; this is a result of the air introduced into the colon during the examination.  This should disappear as you pass gas.  You should be able to eat after the colonoscopy, but your doctor may might restrict your diet and activities.

13

When Will I Know my Results?

After the colonoscopy, your physician will briefly speak to you in the recovery area.  Your physician will inform you of the findings and you will receive a written brief report and pictures, if you.  If biopsies are taken or polyps are removed, the tissue is sent to the laboratory to be examined by a pathologist and the final information will not be available for a week.  You will be called or receive a letter from our office staff (via postal mail) with the results.  You can always call the office to schedule an in-person appointment to discuss the findings further with your physician.

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