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Colorectal Cancer Health Center

Colonoscopy

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How Do I Prepare for a Colonoscopy?

There may be some diet or fluid restrictions before you have a colonoscopy, but this will vary according to your doctor's instructions. You may be asked to limit or eliminate solid foods for a few days before the test. You may also be asked to take laxatives by mouth. Along with the dietary changes, your bowel must be further cleansed in order for colonoscopy to be successful. You will receive 2 enemas before the procedure because the rectum and lower intestine must be empty so that the intestinal walls can be seen. You will need to try to hold the enema solution for at least 5 minutes before releasing it.

Make sure you arrange for a driver to bring you home after the colonoscopy. Because you receive sedating medication during the procedure, it is unsafe for you to drive or operate machinery for 8 hours after the procedure.

What Happens After a Colonoscopy?

After your colonoscopy:

  • You will stay in a recovery room for about 30 minutes for observation
  • You may feel some cramping or a sensation of having gas, but this usually passes quickly
  • You can resume your normal diet

Read your discharge instructions carefully. Certain medications, such as blood-thinning agents, may need to be avoided temporarily if biopsies were taken or polyps were removed.

Bleeding and puncture of the colon are rare but possible complications of colonoscopy. Call your doctor right away if you have any of the following:

  • Excessive or prolonged rectal bleeding
  • Severe abdominal pain, fever, or chills

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Arnold Wax, MD on July 04, 2012
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