What Is a Colonoscopy?

Colonoscopy lets your doctor examine the lining of your large intestine (colon) for abnormalities by inserting a thin flexible tube into your anus and slowly advancing it into the rectum and colon. This instrument, called a colonoscope, has its own lens and light source, and it allows your doctor to view images on a video monitor. A colonoscopy is a type of endoscopy (non-surgical exam of the digestive tract), specifically of the large intestine and rectum. Learn more about other procedures offered at the Centers for Gastroenterology in Northern Colorado.

What Happens During a Colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy procedure is well-tolerated and rarely causes much discomfort. You might feel pressure, bloating or cramping during the procedure. Typically, your colonoscopy doctor will give you a sedative to help you relax and better tolerate any discomfort. You will lie on your side or back while your doctor slowly advances a colonoscope along your large intestine to examine the lining. Your doctor will examine the lining again as he or she slowly withdraws the colonoscope. The procedure itself usually takes less than 45 minutes, although you should plan on two to three hours for preparation and recovery. In some cases, the doctor cannot pass the colonoscope through the entire colon to where it meets the small intestine. Your doctor will advise you whether any additional testing is necessary.

Colonoscopy at Centers for Gastroenterology in Fort Collins, COHow to Prepare for a Colonoscopy

Your colonoscopy doctor will tell you what dietary restrictions to follow and what cleansing routine to use. In general, the preparation consists of limiting your diet to clear liquids the day before and consuming either a large volume of a special cleansing solution or special oral laxatives. The colon must be completely clean for the procedure to be accurate, so be sure to follow your colonoscopy doctor’s instructions carefully. Find more information about procedure preparation here. You may also have questions about insurance coverage and billing, and you can find answers on our FAQs page.

What Happens After a Colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy procedure typically takes 20 to 30 minutes to complete. After your procedure, you’ll spend about 30 minutes to an hour in a recovery room, where you will wake up from sedation under medical supervision. Make sure to arrange for someone to transport you home, as it is unsafe to drive or operate machinery for at least 8 hours after the procedure. It is normal to experience some cramping or to pass gas. You can eat normally after leaving the office.

Risks of Colonoscopy

There are a few risks to be aware of as you prepare for your colonoscopy procedure. Bleeding is a common side effect following the procedure and may occur for up to two weeks. If you experience more than a little bleeding or bleeding that lasts for longer than two weeks, contact your colonoscopy doctor. Other less common risks include perforation of the colon, negative reactions to the sedative used, severe pain, or death. In the case of perforation, your colonoscopy doctor may need to treat this with surgery.

Scheduling a Colonoscopy in Northern Colorado

The physicians at the Centers for Gastroenterology in Northern Colorado, are board certified in internal medicine with additional board certification in the subspecialty of gastroenterology. Contact us today to schedule your colonoscopy appointment.

From the American Gastroenterological Association
References: ASGE, American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy

Colonoscopy: What You Need To Know