A Step-by-step Guide to Colonoscopy
A long, flexible tube with a camera at the tip that doctors insert into your rectum. It lets them check the colon’s lining and remove small clumps of cells known as polyps.
You must prepare your colon before the procedure by emptying it with a laxative. Then, you must avoid solid foods and drink only clear liquids.
Typically, a person must stop eating solid foods the day before a colonoscopy Delaware. Instead, they can drink clear liquids such as water, fruit juices like apples and white grapes, and broth. People also can eat popsicles, Jell-O, and other gelatin-based products. They should avoid red or blue drinks, as the color dyes can discolor the bowel lining and make it difficult for the doctor to see.
Usually, a person will be given a prescription for a laxative to clean out the colon in preparation for the procedure. The instructions on the package will tell a person to take the medication the night before or the morning of the test.
A doctor may ask a person to change their medications before the test if the drugs are known to interfere with the procedure’s effectiveness, including blood thinners; anti-clotting medicines such as aspirin, warfarin (Coumadin), heparin (Jantoven, Xarelto), or dabigatran (Pradaxa, rivaroxaban) used to reduce clot risk; and heart medication that affects platelets such as clopidogrel (Plavix). It is important to follow the doctor’s instructions.
The Day of the Procedure
If your gastroenterologist discovers polyps during the procedure, they may take tissue samples for biopsy. These results can take a few days or more to arrive at the lab. If needed, your doctor can discuss the results with you in person at the end of your colonoscopy.
On the day of the test, you lie on the exam table, and the doctor inserts the colonoscope into your anus and rectum. The doctor pumps air or carbon dioxide into your colon to inflate the lining, which allows for a better view of the lining through the scope. The doctor also looks for fleshy growths (polyps) and removes them if necessary.
Once the doctor is finished, you spend about an hour in a recovery room while the sedative wears off. Then someone should drive you home because you will be too sleepy to operate a car safely. Follow your gastroenterologist’s bowel preparation instructions, especially how long to fast before the test.
The Day of the Test
On the day of the colonoscopy, a person follows the prep regimen exactly as prescribed. The medications cause a series of watery bowel movements that empty the colon of any residue that could obstruct the doctor’s view.
A person wears a hospital gown and lies on an examination table. Anesthesia professionals arrive and insert a tube into the person’s vein so they can administer sedatives during the procedure.
After sedating a person, the gastroenterologist inserts a tube-like instrument called a colonoscope into the rectum. The device has a video camera so the physician can see the colon and rectal cavity lining. The scope also blows air into the colon to expand it for a better view.
The gastroenterologist uses the colonoscope to remove polyps or other abnormal growths and send them to a lab for testing. Depending on the results, the gastroenterologist may recommend treatment. The biopsy results can take a few days or weeks to process.
A person who has a colonoscopy has to clean out the bowel completely. This cleaning is called “prepping” or “bowel prep.” Doctors give specific prep instructions for each patient, but they usually begin one or two days before the procedure. The prep helps the colon become clear or yellow so the doctor can see abnormal areas. A poorly cleaned colon can lead to a diagnosis that is not accurate, and in some cases, the doctor may need to redo the colonoscopy.
The person taking the test will be told to skip solid food for a day or two and eat liquid-based foods, such as popsicles or Jell-O. They also will be given pain medicine and a sedative. Because of this, a person should arrange ahead of time for someone to drive them home when the sedation or anesthesia wears off. It is important to have a ride home since the person will not be allowed to drive when they leave the hospital.