What to Expect
A colonoscopy is a simple outpatient procedure. Here is what you can expect on the day of your exam.
- You must arrange for a ride to and from the hospital.
- You should not drive after your colonoscopy due to the potential side effects of the sedative.
- Whomever brings you to your procedure may wait in the family waiting room or in your private room while you are at your procedure.
Registration in a private room
When you arrive, we will bring you to a private room. Once you are in that private room:
- You will be given a hospital gown to wear.
- We will make sure your information is up to date in our system.
- We will also review your medications and health history.
- We will then get baseline vital signs and start an IV for sedation and hydration.
- Your gastroenterologist and anesthesiologist will meet with you to answer any questions you may have, and have you sign a consent form.
Getting ready in the procedure room
You will be brought to the procedure room and asked to lie down on a stretcher on your left side. After that, you will be connected to a vital sign monitor. To keep you safe and comfortable during the procedure, we will monitor your blood pressure, heart rate and rhythm, respiratory rate, and oxygen and carbon dioxide levels.
You will be given a sedative and pain reliever through an IV. This helps most people fall asleep during the procedure.
15- to 30-minute procedure
Once you are sedated and comfortable, a small amount of air will be used to expand your colon. This can cause minor pressure and cramping in your abdomen. However, with sedation, most people fall asleep during the procedure.
The scope is then advanced through the colon. Once the scope reaches the furthest part, it is slowly withdrawn, examining the lining of the colon and looking for any abnormalities. The doctor may remove polyps and/or take biopsies, as needed.
When your colonoscopy is completed, you will be brought back to your private room to recover from sedation, which takes about 20 minutes. While in recovery, we will monitor your vital signs, pain, and comfort level. Generally, there is little-to-no pain after your colonoscopy.
Receiving your results
You will receive a printed report of your colonoscopy while you are in recovery. We will review this report with you and answer any questions you may have.
Any samples taken during your procedure will be sent to the lab to be analyzed. It takes a few days for the lab to process these samples. Your doctor will send you a letter in the mail in approximately 2 to 3 weeks with the results.
If colon cancer is detected, additional testing may be performed, such as blood draws, radiologic exams, etc. Additional referrals will be made by the doctor.
The rest of your day
After your colonoscopy, don’t drive, drink alcohol or make any important decisions for the remainder of the day. You may resume normal activities the next day. It may take a few days for your bowel movements to return to normal.