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What is a colonoscopy?

Colonoscopy is a procedure to examine the lining of the entire colon (large bowel) using a flexible instrument, the colonoscope. Your Borland-Groover Clinic physician may recommend Colonoscopy because of unexplained rectal bleeding, unexplained pain, to evaluate a condition such as inflammatory bowel disease, or because of a history of colon polyps in you or in a close relative, or in the evaluation to rule out colon cancer. This is an outpatient procedure which generally lasts 30 to 60 minutes. Tumors or early cancers can be detected and removed during Colonoscopy, thereby avoiding surgery and saving lives.

What preparation is required for a colonoscopy?

The colon must be completely clean for the procedure to be accurate and complete. Your physician will give you detailed instructions regarding the dietary restrictions to be followed and the cleansing routine to be used. In general, preparation consists of either drinking a large volume of a special cleansing solution (such as Golytely, Nulytely, or Fleets phosphosoda.) Please follow these instructions carefully. More information.

Your Borland-Groover Clinic physician will need to know to of any medications, major illnesses or allergies so that you can be given instructions about these prior to Colonoscopy.

Drugs such as iron, aspirin, or anticoagulants (blood thinners) are examples of medications which usually must be stopped prior to Colonoscopy.

What will occur during a colonoscopy?

At the Endoscopy Center, you will be registered as a patient, will be given a consent form to read and to sign, and will have the opportunity to ask the nurse and doctor questions. An IV (plastic) catheter will be placed in an arm or hand vein.

Your Borland-Groover Clinic physician will give you medications through the vein to help you relax during the test. Generally the effects of the sedation medicine allows the patient to tolerate the procedure with minimal discomfort and little to no memory of it.

With the person lying on the side, the doctor performs a gentle finger examination of the rectum. The flexible instrument is the placed into the rectum and advanced to carefully see the lining of the colon. Air, and sometimes water, is entered into the bowel to allow the doctor to see well. The patient may feel fullness or bloating due to this. The goal of the procedure is to see the entire colon in 15 to 30 minutes.

What happens if polyps or other abnormalities are found?

If an abnormal area is seen, biopsies may be obtained through the instrument, usually with no discomfort and very low risk of discomfort or bleeding.

If areas of bleeding are seen, these often can be treated through the colonoscope. by injecting certain medications or by coagulation with a probe or laser passed through the colonoscope.

Polyps are abnormal growths of the lining of the colon which vary in size from a tiny dot to several centimeters. The majority of polyps are benign (non-cancerous) but often polyps must be removed to analyze the polyps under the microscope.

Removal of pre-cancerous colon polyps is also an important means of preventing colorectal cancer. Tiny polyps may be totally destroyed by fulguration (burning), but larger polyps are removed by a painless technique called snare polypectomy. The doctor passes a wire loop (snare) through the colonoscope and removes the attached polyp from the intestinal wall.

What happens after a colonoscopy?

After Colonoscopy, you will be monitored in the Endoscopy Center for 30-60 minutes until most of the effects of the medication have worn off. Your abdomen may be a little sore for a while, and you may feel bloating or cramping right after the procedure because of air introduced into your colon during the test.

Most patients are allowed to resume their normal diet after leaving the Endoscopy Center.

Please plan to be at the Endoscopy Center for three hours.

Your Borland-Groover Clinic physician will speak to you after the test but you likely will not remember this. Therefore, the physician will speak with the person driving you home and our nurse will give you written instructions and results of the procedure.

A report will be sent to your primary physician in a few days. Someone must drive you home from the procedure because of the sedation used during the examination. You will be asked not to drive for the rest of the day.

What are the possible complications of a colonoscopy?

Colonoscopy is generally safe and complications are rare when the test is performed by a Board-certified gastroenterologist.

Irritation may occur at the vein where medications were given, sometimes leaving a tender lump lasting for several weeks. Applying hot moist towels may help relieve discomfort.

There is a small risk that biopsies or removal of polyps will cause bleeding which could require transfusions. You should take no aspirin, arthritis pills (other than acetaminophen/Tylenol), or other blood thinners for a period of time after biopsies or polypectomy. Your physician will inform you when you can resume these types of medications.

Rarely, a tear in the wall of the colon could require hospitalization, emergency surgery, or even death. Also, there is a small possibility of a splenic tear or rupture.

Other rare risks include a reaction to the sedatives used or aggravation of heart or lung diseases.

Please call the Borland-Groover Clinic immediately if after the procedure you develop fever, significant pain, or bleeding.