Your provider may recommend you have a colonoscopy at age 50. If you have family history of colon cancer, your provider may recommend a colonoscopy at age 40. A Colonoscopy is the best way to look for colon growths, but it is not right for everyone. Your provider can help determine the best options and frequency for your individualized situation.
Before the procedure can be done, your colon must be cleaned out. This is done by having a clear liquid diet the day before and drinking a special laxative the evening and sometimes the morning of the procedure.
Your provider may provide you with one of the following preparation instructions:
A colonoscopy means using a thin, flexible tube (flexible sigmoidoscopy) with a camera and light at the end to look inside the colon. During the procedure, air is inserted and the scope is moved around corners; therefore, bloating and mild discomfort may be felt at moments. You will have a sedative and pain medication given through an IV. This makes the procedure as comfortable as possible.
Your provider will be looking for polyps (which are sometimes pre-cancerous) which will be removed or sometimes biopsied. Colon cancers can be biopsied and diagnosed during the procedure.
Risks may include possible reaction to medications, holes or tears, bleeding and possibly missing something. Each of these risks is small.
You MUST have a driver accompany you for your appointment as you cannot drive yourself home after receiving sedative medication.
Ask the Doctor
Why does my driver need to stay in the lobby during my entire colonoscopy?
Dr. Vincent: Your driver must stay in the lobby for your safety. You will be sedated and not able to make decisions for yourself. You cannot drive yourself home after the procedure; therefore, we want your driver available as soon as you are ready, so you can go safely home.
I am having my period. Can I still have my colonoscopy?
Dr. Vincent: This will not interfere with your procedure, nor will wearing a pad or using a tampon.
When will I get the results from my colonoscopy?
Dr. Vincent: After the procedure, you and your driver(s) will receive some early results of the procedure. Often, the physician who did your procedure will be the one to discuss the results. Many times biopsies or samples are sent to the pathology lab for microscope studies. These results are usually back to the physician in a week. The physician will call or mail you a letter with the results the following week. Therefore, if you do not hear back from the doctor within two weeks of your procedure, you should call your physicians office.
Do I have to drink all of my colon prep?
Dr. Sing: Yes, we want your colon as clean as possible so that your physician can see all of the colon. This allows your physician to find (and possibly treat) the smallest and flattest polyps.
Can I have alcohol while I am doing my prep?
Dr. Sing: No, you may not have alcohol while you are doing your prep., or on the day of the procedure. Alcohol is dehydrating and dangerous to mix with sedation.
I am a diabetic. What precautions should I take during the preparation period?
Dr. Sing: If you are a diabetic, we will give you special instructions when your procedure is scheduled. You will need to let us know about ALL of your diabetic medications. You should check your blood sugar frequently during the day before and the day of the procedure. Since you will be on clear liquids, your blood sugar will tend to drop faster than normal. To avoid this be sure to include some liquids with regular sugar in your diet. It may also be helpful to have some glucose tablets on hand in case your blood sugar drops and it is past your cut off time for fluids.
Learn more about Colonoscopies
From the Scott & White Community Blog, Why the dreaded colonoscopy shouldn’t be so dreaded after all
Find more colonoscopy information in A.D.A.M. Multimedia Encyclopedia.