Colonoscopy: Preparation, Procedure, and Risk Factors


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A colonoscopy is a way for doctors to examine changes or abnormalities in the large intestine and rectum. The procedure involves a colonoscope. A colonoscope is a long and flexible tube that is inserted into the rectum. It is a tool that allows doctors to see the inside of the colon. Polyps or other kinds of abnormal tissue can also be removed during a colonoscopy.

There are several reasons why your doctor may recommend a colonoscopy, including screening for colon cancer or searching for polyps. If you experience any abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, chronic constipation, or other intestinal problems, your doctor can use a colonoscopy to examine what is causing your symptoms more closely.


The most important way to prepare is to clean out your colon. Your doctor will tell you the importance of emptying out your colon before a colonoscopy. Any residue can make it difficult for the doctor to get a clear view of your colon and rectum.

Emptying your colon may entail different processes. Your doctor will ask that you take a laxative, which comes in pill or liquid form. The liquid form tends to work better than the pill, but you may find the taste unbearable. One tip is to drink more water with it, and consume it through a straw. Another tip is to suck on a lemon flavored lollipop so the taste of the liquid laxative is more bearable. It is important to not consume anything red. Red food or drinks are easily confused with blood during the colonoscopy exam.

Additionally, your doctor may also ask that you follow a specific kind of diet the day before the exam. Usually, you can not eat any solid foods. Your doctor will limit your diet to clear liquids. Correctly preparing for your colonoscopy is important because it will allow the doctor to more accurately review your results. If you do not follow your doctor’s instructions, it can lead to an incorrect result or you will have to reschedule your colonoscopy exam.

During the Exam

After you have prepared, the doctor can perform the colonoscopy. The procedure takes about thirty to sixty minutes. You are expected to wear a hospital gown during the procedure. Also, doctors will use sedation during the exam. You will lie on your side with your knees towards your chest. Then, your doctor will insert a colonoscope into your rectum.

The colonoscope is an important tool during the procedure. It allows the doctor to see and examine your colon more directly. The scope is made up of a long, flexible tube with a light at the end. It can pump air or carbon dioxide into the colon, which helps inflate the colon and makes it easier for the doctor to view. However, this may make you feel bloated or feel abdominal cramping. You may also feel like you need to have a bowel movement.

A video camera is attached at the tip and sends images to the monitor for the doctor to study. Additionally, doctors can use certain instruments through the scope to take tissue sample or remove polyps.


After the procedure it can take up to an hour to recover from the sedative. Because of the amount of time it takes to recover from the sedative, it is important that someone drives you home. It is possible to feel bloated or pass gas after the exam. If you feel any discomfort, walking can help. Also, it is possible to notice some blood within your first bowel movement after the procedure. This is normal and there is no need to panic. However, if you notice that you are still experiencing blood or blood clots several days after the exam, you will need to talk with your doctor.

You will receive a negative result if there are no abnormalities in the colon. Ten years is usually the recommendation to have another colonoscopy. However, if the doctor finds any polyps or abnormal tissue in the colon you will receive a positive result. Most polyps are not cancerous, but they can be precancerous. Polyps are removed during the colonoscopy and are analyzed further to test if they are cancerous or not. Depending on your result, you will need to schedule more appointments with your doctor for check ups.


There are few risks during the colonoscopy exam. Risks include experiencing a reaction to the sedative, bleeding, or a tear in the colon or rectum wall. If you experience any worse or ongoing conditions, make sure to contact your doctor.