After checking into the reception desk, you will be escorted to a prep room where you will remove your clothes and put on a hospital gown. The nurse will review your medical history, medications you’re taking, allergies you have, and confirm that you’ve completed your bowel prep. He or she will then apply a blood pressure cuff. The pulse oximeter will be placed over your index finger to measure oxygen saturation and heart rate values.

The anesthesiologist will then enter the room and tell you about the type of sedation you’ll receive, make sure you haven’t had a reaction to it before, and explain what side effects to expect.

Your physician will then enter the room, review any last-minute instructions and discuss any concerns you have before the procedure.

Colonoscopy Procedure

You will be brought to a sterile room and position yourself on your left side on the exam table. Anesthesia will be administered.

The doctor will insert a flexible scope with lighting and camera attachments into your rectum and move it upward through the colon to carefully examine it. Biopsies of any growths will be taken and any polyps found will be removed. Bleeding points are cauterized as encountered.

When the doctor is satisfied that the colon is completely examined, the scope is removed and you will be brought to the recovery room for postoperative care and monitoring. The sedation takes approximately 30 minutes to wear off. Once awake, you may be offered water to drink and the examining doctor will return to discuss findings and recommendations.

When you are alert and have stable vital signs, you will change back into your regular clothes. The nurse will review the discharge instructions with you and give you any prescriptions from the doctor. You will then be brought out to your waiting transportation and allowed to go.

Recovery from Colonoscopy

Since a colonoscopy is a surgical procedure, certain symptoms can be expected, including:

  • Fatigue or wooziness: Dizziness and lack of alertness are caused by anesthesia. Symptoms will improve as the drug effects wear off. Until then, you should not return to work, operate heavy machinery or drive. Make plans for transportation home from the procedure ahead of time.
  • Bloating or cramping: Inflation of the bowel with air may cause cramping or discomfort which lessens over the course of the day as the air is absorbed.
  • Slight bleeding: Trace staining or spotting may occur due to irritation of the intestinal lining. If bleeding is significant, you should contact the surgeon immediately.

Symptoms are typically gone within 24 hours but may last up to 48 hours. You should plan to rest for the rest of the day after the procedure, if possible. You can resume a normal diet immediately after the procedure.

Post-op appointments are generally made for one to two weeks after the colonoscopy, especially if biopsies were performed. Initial results are usually given before discharge.

Common Tests and Procedures Done With Colonoscopy

Culture of side walls

  • Test to determine if intestinal lining is irritated or ulcerated
  • Fluid is removed and analyzed

Biopsy

  • Test to analyze abnormal tissue or growths
  • A snippet of the area is taken and analyzed
  • Bleeding points are cauterized

Polypectomy

  • Polyps are removed and analyzed

Laser therapy

  • Laser is used in obstructed bowels to assist in stent placement
  • Also used to blast a lesion rather than surgically removing it

Self-expanding metal stents (SEMS) insertion

  • Stents are inserted into bowels obstructed from tumors and growths
  • This is an alternative option to surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, as well as preoperative bowel prep