Video:See What to Expect at a Colonoscopywith Dr. Kate Grossman
A Colonoscopy is a crucial test for the detection and prevention of certain cancers. While the process may seem scary it is actually a lot easier than you might think. Learn what to expect and who should be scheduling their appointments.See Transcript
Transcript:See What to Expect at a ColonoscopyHi, I'm Dr. Kate Grossman, for About.com Health.
Your doctor says that it's time for you to get a colonoscopy. The thought of it makes you a little queasy and you don't know what to expect.
Who Gets a Colonoscopy?Over a million colonoscopies are performed every year in the United States. Most of them are on people fifty or older to screen for colon cancer. Over eighty percent of the time, the results are normal. When something abnormal is found, nine out of ten times, it is not due to cancer.
Before a ColonoscopyThe day before your exam, you will be asked to take laxatives to clean out your colon. You can expect a lot of loose, frequent stools, so you should drink plenty of clear liquids to avoid becoming dehydrated.
Colonoscopy ProcedureYou will be asked to lie on your left side with your knees drawn up towards your abdomen. Pain medications and sedatives are given intravenously to help keep you comfortable and they may cause you to sleep or forget portions of the procedure.
The doctor inserts a long, flexible, lighted scope into your rectum and inflates your colon.
You may feel mild cramping, the urge to pass gas or the urge go to the bathroom, but this is all normal.
The doctor carefully examines video images captured by the scope as it glides through your colon. You may be asked to change positions so the doctor can get a better view of a particular area.
The doctor will remove any polyps or other potential abnormalities using tiny tools passed through the scope. You should not feel any discomfort when this happens. The doctor will then withdraw the scope slowly allowing time for any extra air to escape. The whole procedure typically takes less than an hour.
After a ColonoscopyA nurse takes you to a recovery room to wait until the sedative wears off. Most people can go home an hour or two after that.
You may experience mild cramping for up to an hour and feel groggy for the rest of the day, but you should be able return to your normal activities by the following morning.
Any polyps or other potential abnormalities removed during the test will be sent to the lab for testing.
Colonoscopy ResultsYou will learn the results of those tests within a week. If you do have pre-cancerous polyps or growths, having a colonoscopy may be the first step in preventing colon cancer and saving your life.
Just remember that 98 percent of the time, a colonoscopy will either show everything to be normal or identify pre-cancerous growths that can be removed.
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