What is a Colonoscopy?
Colonoscopy is a procedure that enables your surgeon to examine the lining of the colon and rectum. It is usually done in the hospital or an endoscopic procedure room on an outpatient basis. A soft, bendable tube about the thickness of the index finger is gently inserted into the anus and advanced into the rectum and the colon.
Why is a Colonoscopy Performed?
A colonoscopy is usually done 1) as part of a routine screening for cancer, 2) in patients with known polyps or previous polyp removal, 3) before or after some surgeries, 4) to evaluate a change in bowel habits or bleeding or 5) to evaluate changes in the lining of the colon known as inflammatory disorders.
What Preparation is Required?
The rectum and colon must be completely emptied of stool for the procedure to be performed. In general, preparation consists of consumption of a special cleansing solution or several days of clear liquids, laxatives and enemas prior to the examination. Your surgeon and his or her staff will provide you with instructions regarding the cleansing routine necessary for the colonoscopy.
Follow your surgeon’s instructions carefully. If you do not complete the preparation, it may be unsafe to perform the colonoscopy and the procedure may have to be rescheduled. If you are unable to take the preparation, contact your surgeon.
Most medications can be continued as usual. Medication use such as aspirin, Vitamin E, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, blood thinners and insulin should be discussed with your surgeon prior to the examination as well as any other medications you might be taking. It is essential that you alert your surgeon if you require antibiotics prior to undergoing dental procedures, since you may also require antibiotics prior to colonoscopy.
You will most likely be sedated during the procedure and an arrangement to have someone drive you home afterward is imperative. Sedatives will affect your judgment and reflexes for the rest of the day. You should not drive or operate machinery until the next day.
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