A colonoscopy is a routine screening procedure typically recommended for adults after age 45. As an integral part of preventative care, our team can make sure your colonoscopy experience is safe and effective.
A colonoscopy, medically referred to as gastrointestinal endoscopy, is a procedure that examines the large intestine by inserting a flexible camera (called an endoscope) through the rectum. This allows your colorectal surgeon to view your colon and take pictures or samples of tissue. Performed as an outpatient procedure, you’ll be sedated and won’t feel anything during a colonoscopy.
Colonoscopies are a regular part of your healthcare needs as you age, and they’re very safe and effective when performed by a colorectal surgeon. If you’re apprehensive about undergoing a colonoscopy because of embarrassment or hesitation about preparation, our team can guide you through every step of your procedure.
Most adults undergo colonoscopies as a regular and effective way to perform a colorectal cancer screening. This is done by removing colon polyps, which are small growths that can become cancerous. In addition, colonoscopies can also be used to evaluate certain gastrointestinal symptoms like abdominal pain, bleeding, or concerning bowel movements to help diagnose many types of digestive diseases.
It’s recommended that most adults undergo their first colonoscopy at age 45 with regular subsequent screenings every few years. However, the frequency and starting age for colonoscopies can be different for different people based on risk factors unique to their health history. These might include having:
- A family history of colorectal cancer, which indicates an increased risk of polyp and cancer formation
- Genetic conditions associated with colon cancer
- Conditions like inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis)
Your colorectal surgeon can recommend the right frequency for a screening colonoscopy appointment depending on your unique health needs.
Colonoscopies are very low-risk, routine procedures undergone by most adults. Here’s what to expect from your comfortable and low-hassle experience at ACE Clinic.
Preparation is one of the most important parts of colonoscopy. To prepare, you’ll need to ensure your colon is clean and free of any foods that could prevent a clear look at your colon. You’ll be given instructions to follow in the days ahead of your procedure for bowel preparation, and you should follow these exactly. If you arrive for your colonoscopy without having undergone proper bowel prep, you’ll need to schedule a different day to have the procedure performed.
The general instructions are as follows: First, you’ll drink a specialized solution that will vacate your bowels. This will cause watery diarrhea, so you should remain near the bathroom when taking the solution. If done properly, your diarrhea should look clear or yellowish, meaning your colon has been completely cleaned out. It’s extremely important to keep yourself hydrated during this stage, so drink plenty of water in addition to the solution.
You’ll need to follow a low-fiber diet for a few days ahead of your procedure, avoiding foods like popcorn, nuts, or seeds. The day before your procedure, you’ll be limited to clear liquids like water, broth, and certain juices. You’ll need to fast and avoid any liquids ahead of your procedure depending on whether you’ll be under sedation or general anesthesia.
Before your colonoscopy procedure, you’ll be given an IV for sedation and pain relief. You’ll feel relaxed and comfortable in your private procedure suite. You’ll lay on your left side with your knees at your chest so your colorectal surgeon can insert the scope. A small amount of air will be used to expand your colon and allow for better visuals. This can cause some slight cramping but you may feel too drowsy to notice.
Finally, after your entire colon is examined and any samples are taken, the scope is withdrawn and you’ll be taken to a recovery room. Overall, it can take about 30 minutes.
You’ll remain in the recovery room for observation until the sedation has worn off and you’re ready to go home. You’ll need to be taken home by a close friend or family member. You should avoid any extensive activity for 24 hours after your procedure and focus instead on resting.
You can resume your normal diet immediately unless your colorectal surgeon indicates otherwise. Within a few days, we’ll contact you with the results of your procedure and discuss any next steps.
At ACE Clinic, we can help ensure your colonoscopy is quick, comfortable, and safe. To get started and learn more about your options, we invite you to contact our office by calling or filling out our online form.
- Are you awake during a colonoscopy?
Usually a colonoscopy is performed under anesthesia to keep you comfortable. You will likely not feel or remember the procedure when you wake up.
- Is a colonoscopy a serious procedure?
In general, colonoscopy is a safe procedure. As with any medical procedure, however, there are some risks associated with the procedure and with the sedation used. You should contact your doctor if you feel severe abdominal pain, dizziness, fever, chills or rectal bleeding after the colonoscopy. Perforation and bleeding are two of the major complications associated with colonoscopy. There also is a risk of having a reaction to a sedative given during the exam. In most cases, medications are available to counteract this reaction. Although complications after colonoscopy are rare, they can be serious and life-threatening. It is important for you to be aware of early signs that something might be wrong.
- What happens during a colonoscopy?
You are initially admitted in the pre-op area. You will then be moved to the procedure room for the colonoscopy. Colonoscopy is done with a thin, flexible tube that has a tiny camera on the end. The tube is gently inserted into the large intestine through the rectum and guided into the intestine to see its entire length. Your surgeon can observe the lining of your colon, looking for polyps or lesions, on a viewing screen in the room. Your physician generally makes observations all the way to the end of the large intestine and back through, checking for anything unusual. The entire procedure, in most cases, takes between 15 and 30 minutes.
- Is a colonoscopy painful?
Most patients do not experience pain. Some patients may feel some discomfort such as cramping.
- What's the average cost of a colonoscopy?
The cost of a colonoscopy can vary depending on your insurance. Most colonoscopy procedures are covered by insurance, however, you may qualify for a reduced price screening.
- How long does a colonoscopy take?
A colonoscopy usually lasts 15 to 30 minutes. Once your procedure is complete you will be taken to the recovery area.
- Can I go to work the day after a colonoscopy?
- At what age should I get a colonoscopy?
According to American Cancer Society guidelines, anyone over the age of 45 should undergo screening for colon cancer. This may vary if you have a family history of colorectal cancer. The age may also vary depending on other factors such as inflammatory bowel disease or genetic disorders.
- Can you walk home after a colonoscopy?
No. You will need to arrange for a ride back home. It is not safe to drive or walk home after a colonoscopy.
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