How It Is Done
Colonoscopy may be done in a doctor's
office, clinic, or a hospital. The test is most often done by a doctor who
works with problems of the digestive system (gastroenterologist). The doctor may also have an
assistant. Some family doctors, internists, and surgeons are also trained to do
During the test, you may get a pain medicine and a
sedative put in a vein in your arm (IV). These
medicines help you relax and feel sleepy during the test. You may not remember
much about the test.
Before the test
You will need to take off most of your
clothes. You will be given a gown to wear during the test.
may lie on your left side with your knees pulled up to your belly. The doctor
will gently put a gloved finger into your anus. Then he
or she will put the thin, flexible colonoscope in your anus and move it slowly
through your colon. The doctor can look at the lining of the colon through the
scope or on a computer screen hooked to the scope.
During the test
You may feel
the need to have a bowel movement while the scope is in your colon. You may
also feel some cramping. Breathe deeply and slowly through your mouth to relax
your belly muscles. This should help the cramping. You will likely feel and
hear some air escape around the scope. There is no need to be embarrassed about
it. The passing of air is expected. You may be asked to change your position
during the test.
Your doctor will look at the whole length of your
colon as the scope is gently moved in and then out of your colon.
The doctor may also
use tiny tools, such as forceps, loops, or swabs, through the scope to collect
tissue samples (biopsy) or take out growths. Usually, people do not feel
anything if a biopsy is done or if polyps are taken out.
scope is slowly pulled out of your anus and the air escapes. Your anal area
will be cleaned with tissues. If you are having cramps, passing gas may help
The test usually takes 30 to 45 minutes, but it may
take longer, depending upon what is found and what is done during the
After the test
After the test, you will be watched for 1 to 2 hours. When
you are fully awake, you can go home. You will not be able to drive or operate
machinery for 12 hours after the test. Your doctor will tell you when you can
eat your normal diet and do your normal activities. Drink a lot of fluid after
the test to replace the fluids you may have lost during the colon prep, but do
not drink alcohol.
If you received a
sedative during the test, do not drive, operate
machinery, or sign legal documents for 24 hours after the test. Arrange to have
someone drive you home after the test.