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What to Expect with a Colonoscopy

What to expect with a colonoscopy

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common cancer in the United States in both men and women. Current medical guidelines recommend screening for CRC at age 50 in those at average risk, and earlier for those at higher risk, such as a family history of CRC or a personal history of bowel disease. While there are other screening methods such as stool tests, most organizations recommend screening with colonoscopy.  The advantage to colonoscopy is that a physician directly visualizes the colon, and if any abnormal areas are seen, a biopsy can be taken at that time.

The procedure itself will require cleansing of the colon using laxatives and a liquid diet the day before the test.  Prior to the colonoscopy, the physician will explain the procedure and possible complications, and will have you sign a consent form.  If you are taking medicines, he will tell you whether or not to take them the day of the colonoscopy. Shortly before the actual procedure, an IV will be placed in your arm and you will be given a sedative to help relax you, so you will need to have someone drive you to the office or hospital and stay there to drive you home afterward.

When the colonoscopy is done, you will be kept in a recovery area for usually up to an hour, until the sedative wears off and your physician determines you are ready to be released.  When you are in recovery, your physician will talk with you about the results of the colonoscopy. You may feel tired after the procedure, so plan to take it easy for the rest of the day.

For more detailed patient information regarding colonoscopy, you can go to the website Up To Date at www.uptodate.com/patients.