There is no need to worry about getting a colonoscopy test. It is an exam that your doctor would use to take a look inside your large intestine for any potential causes like pain in the abdomen region, rectal bleeding, or bowel changes. You do not have to stress about the procedure as, most likely, you will be sedated. Hence, you will not be awake to experience it. The preparation, however, can be a little exhausting. Colonoscopies are sometimes used to prevent colorectal cancer as abnormal growths, called a polyp, can be removed during a colonoscopy before they transform into cancer cells.
The most important thing to have a successful colonoscopy test is a clean colon. You have to limit your diet one day before the process. Eat only what your doctor recommends. Usually, clear liquids are allowed, such as-
- Energy drinks
Then, you have to empty your bowel before the procedure. You can do this by-
- Drinking a prescribed laxative
- Add-on enemas with the laxative
Follow the doctor’s directions as to when you should empty your bowel. They will recommend you do it the night before or the morning of the procedure. Also, you will not be awake for the procedure as you will be sedated, so it is advised to have someone else take you home after the Colonoscopy.
What to Expect During the Procedure?
An experienced doctor will perform the colonoscopy test, which lasts for approx. 30-60 minutes. To make you relax, certain medications will be given to you. The procedure begins with the patient laying down on their left side on the examining table. Steps for Colonoscopy-
- After the patient is sedated and relaxed, the colonoscope, a long, flexible, tubular instrument about ½ inch in diameter, is inserted into the patient’s colon through their rectum. The scope is moved to visualize the lumen and the walls of the colon throughout the colon. The colonoscope communicates an image of the lining of the colon to make it easier for the doctor to examine it for any abnormalities.
- The doctor who performs the Colonoscopy is known as a gastroenterologist. He inspects the area around the anus to check for skin tags, hemorrhoids, prolapse, and fissures. A digital examination is also conducted.
- You may experience slight cramping during the procedure, which can be reduced by taking slow and deep breaths. When the colonoscopy test is done, the colonoscope is withdrawn carefully and slowly while the lining of your bowel is examined.
The procedure lasts about 30 minutes. It would take longer if there were any polyps to remove.
What to Expect After the Procedure?
As you regain consciousness, you will be moved to the recovery room to be observed by the medical team. This time is crucial as your vitals need to be monitored to make sure there aren’t any complications and you are oxygenating normally, and your blood pressure, heart rate, etc., are within the usual range.
The recovery period depends on how sedated you were, but generally, it takes about an hour. When the medications have worn off, you will be allowed to drink water and take any pain killers if needed. Understand the instructions given to you before you go home. Some doctors recommend avoiding certain medicines like blood thinners for a day or two if a biopsy was conducted or polyps removed.
Possible complications after a colonoscopy test include-
- Excessive rectal bleeding
- Abdominal pain, fever, or chills
- Bleeding and puncture of the colon
- Bellyache/ Discomfort
- Perforated intestine
- Trouble during bowel movement
Ring up your doctor immediately if you observe any of these symptoms. Avoid alcohol and driving for at least 24 hours after the procedure. It is advisable to wait for a day after the test to resume normal daily activities.
Questions you can ask your doctor
Before going ahead with the procedure, consider asking these questions to your healthcare team.
- Who will perform the Colonoscopy?
- Is it necessary to have one?
- What are the risks and benefits associated with Colonoscopy?
- What is the procedure?
- What do I need to do before the procedure?
- Things to do after the procedure?
- Can I take my existing medications?
Do not hesitate to ask any other queries you have before the procedure begins.
Several cases are treated without requiring a major operation as Colonoscopy allows appropriate diagnosis and treatment. Many people get nervous about going through a procedure because they are scared of the preparation. But a colonoscopy test is one of the most accurate methods to spot or help prevent colon cancer. However, colonoscopies cannot help you treat cancer. For a successful procedure, you have to follow all the instructions given to you.
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