During a colonoscopy, a flexible fiberoptic tube (colonscope) is passed through the rectum into the lower intestinal tract. This procedure allows the doctor to examine the lining of the rectum and the large intestine (colon) and to identify any abnormalities.

About the procedure

A needle for intravenous (IV) medicines will be placed in your arm vein before the procedure. Medicine will be injected through this needle that will make you sleepy and relaxed.

As you lie on your left side, the doctor will examine your rectum with a gloved lubricated finger. Then he/she will insert the lubricated flexible colonoscope, which will give you a mild sensation of wanting you to move your bowels. As the colonoscope is carefully advanced through the colon, the doctor will examine the bowel lining thoroughly. You may feel some cramping or gas due to the air that the doctor is putting into the colon. You may be asked to change positions during the procedure to assist in passage of the colonoscope. Occasionally fluoroscopy (X-ray) is used for short periods of time.

Often, a biopsy specimen (tiny bit of tissue) is taken for microscopic examination. If you have a polyp, it may be removed by electocautery through the colonoscope. You will not feel any sensation or discomfort when the biopsy is performed or the polyp removed.

Many people do not recall any of the procedure because of the effect of the medicine. After the procedure, you will probably feel drowsy and may sleep for a short time. You may feel some bloating from the air inserted during the procedure. You will feel better if you expel the air. The Gastroenterology Nurse or technician will give you written instructions to follow when you get home.

If you have any questions or concerns about your colonoscopy, please feel free to ask the doctor, the Gastroenterology Nurse or technician.

Following are some things you’ll need to know to prepare for your procedure:

  • The day before the exam, carefully follow the prep instructions from your doctor using the prescribed preparatory solution.
  • Eyeglasses must be removed prior to the procedure. You may prefer to remove dentures and contact lenses at this time.
  • You will be asked to sign a consent form authorizing the doctor to perform the procedure.
  • Remember that you will not be allowed to undergo the procedure unless you have another adult to accompany you and drive you home.
  • Please let the doctor or Gastroenterology Nurse know if you are allergic to any medications or if you think or know you are pregnant.

*If your doctor recommends another preparation, please follow those instructions instead.

Helpful Hints To Remember Before Your Examination

  • If you are having trouble drinking your prep solution, try drinking it through a straw. You can also try eating hard candy or chewing gum after each glass of the prep.
  • Try applying Vaseline or using baby wipes if your rectal area is irritated during or after using the prep solution.
  • If you are unable to make your appointment, please call us to cancel so another patient can be given your appointment time. We can reschedule your appointment at the earliest convenience for you.
  • If you are a diabetic patient, please follow instructions from your primary care provider regarding your diabetic medications and blood sugar.
  • Be sure to bring your glasses with you so you can read and sign the information sheets and consent forms.
  • Please bring a list of all the medications you are currently taking.