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  • Writer's pictureDr. Dooreck with Zoeya Gordon

Preparing for a Colonoscopy: What to Expect

Updated: Jul 24, 2023


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Although the thought of a colonoscopy can be uncomfortable, it is a highly effective procedure for preventing and detecting colon cancer.

What is a colonoscopy?


A colonoscopy is a routine medical procedure involving examining the large intestine and rectum. This procedure is used to screen for colon cancer and other digestive diseases. If you have been scheduled for a colonoscopy, feeling a bit anxious or unsure about what to expect is normal. This article will guide you through the process and provide some tips to ensure a smooth procedure.


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Preparing for a colonoscopy

Before the colonoscopy, your doctor will give you detailed instructions on how to prepare for the procedure. It is essential to follow these instructions carefully to ensure the highest quality of results and to reduce the risk of complications.

Tips to help you prepare for the colonoscopy

1. Follow a clear liquid diet: Two days before the procedure, you must follow a clear liquid diet. This includes water, clear juices, tea, broth, and gelatin. Avoid foods with solid particles as they may interfere with the procedure.

2. Take laxatives and enemas: You will be required to take a series of laxatives to flush out your bowels. You may also be required to take an enema to clean out the rectum.

3. Arrange for transportation: During the procedure, you will be given sedatives to help you relax. It is important to arrange transportation to and from the hospital as you cannot drive or operate machinery.

4. Discuss your medical history: Before the procedure, inform your doctor of any current medications, allergies, or medical conditions that you may have.


If you have been scheduled for a colonoscopy, it is normal to feel a bit anxious or unsure about what to expect.

What to expect during the procedure

The colonoscopy procedure usually takes between 30 minutes to an hour to complete. During the procedure, the doctor will insert a long, flexible tube with a camera attached to it into your rectum. They will then slowly advance the tube through the colon while examining the colon's lining for abnormal growths or polyps. If any polyps are found, they will be removed and sent to a laboratory for testing.

Here are some things to expect during the procedure:

1. Sedation: You will be given sedatives to help you relax and not feel discomfort during the procedure.

2. Pressure and cramping: You may experience pressure or cramping as the doctor advances the tube through your colon. This is a normal sensation and should not cause any pain.

3. Gas and bloating: After the procedure, you may feel gassy or have some bloating due to the air used to inflate the colon during the procedure.


The colonoscopy procedure usually takes between 30 minutes to an hour to complete.

Tips for a smooth procedure

To ensure a smooth colonoscopy procedure, here are some tips that can help:

1. Drink plenty of clear fluids: Staying hydrated before the procedure can help flush out the bowel and reduce the risk of complications.

2. Follow the preparation instructions carefully: Ensure that you follow the instructions given to you by your doctor carefully. This will help to ensure a smooth procedure and the highest quality of results.

3. Don't be afraid to ask questions: If you have any questions or concerns about the procedure, do not hesitate to ask your doctor. They will be able to provide you with the information and support you need.

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In conclusion, a colonoscopy is a routine medical procedure that can help detect and prevent colon cancer. Preparing for the procedure and following the tips above can help ensure a smooth procedure and the best possible results. If you have been scheduled for a colonoscopy, remember to stay calm, follow the instructions carefully, and don't hesitate to ask questions.


Below is an educational video on how to prepare for a colonoscopy by the New York-Presbyterian Hospital.




Fun Facts


  1. Over 14 million colonoscopies are performed annually in the United States to detect and prevent colon cancer.

  2. Colonoscopy prep can be different for everyone depending on their health and the requirements of their procedure.

  3. Regular colonoscopies are recommended for people over 45 or those with a family history of colon cancer.

  4. In addition to preventing colon cancer, a colonoscopy can diagnose other gastrointestinal conditions, such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.

Statistics

According to the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable, if all eligible Americans were screened for colon cancer through regular colonoscopies, it could prevent as many as 60% of deaths from colorectal cancer. However, according to a study conducted in 2005, only half of adults over 50 had reported having a colonoscopy in the previous decade.


Summary


A colonoscopy is important for detecting colon cancer and other gastrointestinal conditions. The procedure can help prevent colon cancer by detecting and removing polyps before they become cancerous. Although colonoscopy preparation can be unpleasant, it is necessary to ensure a successful and accurate procedure. Overall, regular colonoscopies can save lives by detecting colon cancer early and preventing the disease from developing.

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