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A colonoscopy is a procedure performed by a doctor and lasts approximately 30 minutes. Medications will be given into your vein to make you feel relaxed and drowsy. During a colonoscopy, the doctor uses a long, flexible, tubular instrument about 1/2-inch in diameter that transmits an image of the lining of the colon called a colonoscope. The colonoscope is inserted through the rectum and advanced through your large intestine.
You may feel mild cramping during the procedure. When the doctor has finished, the colonoscope is slowly withdrawn while the lining of your bowel is carefully examined.
During the colonoscopy, if the doctor sees something that may be abnormal, small amounts of tissue can be removed for analysis (called a biopsy), and abnormal growths, or polyps, can be identified and removed. In many cases, colonoscopies allow accurate diagnosis and treatment without the need for a major operation.
It is important to discuss your medical history and any medical conditions you may have with your doctor. Be sure to bring a list of your current medications, including prescriptions and any over-the-counter medications, supplements, or herbal remedies you are taking. Also tell your doctor if you have any allergies.
You will be asked to hold supplements and vitamins several days before your procedure. There will also be some modifications to diabetic medications. If you are taking a prescribed blood thinner, please refer to your instructions on the day to take your last dose and hold until your procedure has been completed. Once your procedure is completed, you will be informed when to resume your blood thinner.
4 days prior to your procedure, you will be instructed to start an over-the-counter stool softener leading up to taking the main prescribed colon prep. The stool softener, Miralax gently softens stool and jump starts the process to optimize the colon cleanse and making it more tolerable.
Continue to take your other prescribed medications such as heart, blood pressure, acid-reflux, and allergy medication.
You'll need to arrange a ride home after the colonoscopy -- you won't be allowed to drive because of the sedatives you'll be given during the procedure. Your doctor may also give you other special instructions.
For the colonoscopy to be thorough and safe, your bowel must be completely empty.
In most cases, you can also eat gelatin or Popsicles in any color except red or purple. The evening before the procedure starting around 5pm, you will take a bowel prep. This is a laxative to cleanse your bowel. You will take half of the preparation and then save the other half to take 5-6 hours prior to your procedure. This is called split dose preparation. Evidence based studies have shown the split-dose approach, not only is more tolerable, but also does a much better job of cleaning the colon. You’re going to be losing a lot of fluid, so it’s important that you stay hydrated.
Instruction sheets from your doctor were sent along with the bowel prep regimen. Please follow those instructions to complete your bowel prep- DO NOT FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS ON THE BOX
After your colonoscopy:
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 a colonoscopy. Call your doctor right away if you have any of the following.
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