Knowing what to expect during your upcoming colonoscopy procedure can do a great deal to alleviate your anxiety about the procedure. When you schedule a colonoscopy at the La Peer Health Systems Colonoscopy Center of Excellence, our caring and compassionate staff will sit down with you to prepare you for the test and answer any questions you may have. Remember, colonoscopies are the best way of diagnosing and preventing colon cancer.
Learn more about cancer screenings by reading about the “Basics of Colonoscopy” on WebMD.
What to Expect During a Colon Cancer Screening
By now, you have completed your colonoscopy preparations and are ready to undergo the procedure. The good news is that the actual procedure takes far less time than the preparations! A typical colonoscopy procedure lasts anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour.
Just before the procedure, you will usually take a sedative to help you relax. The surgeon may also provide medication to alleviate any minimal discomfort accompanying the procedure. We also have an outstanding group of anesthesiologists available to you to ensure that you are comfortable and safe during your procedure.
Typically, you will begin the colonosopy exam lying on your side with your knees pulling into your chest. Your surgeon will examine the entire large intestine and the last part of the small bowel (terminal ileum) using a colonoscope. This is a four-foot flexible tube about the width of a finger. Because you are sedated, you should not feel the tube as it is advanced to examine the colon. The colonoscope has a camera and light, which allow the surgeon to perform a visual inspection and locate any ulcers, colon polyps, tumors or areas of inflammation.
During the procedure, the doctors will pump air into the colon to inflate the area and allow for better visibility. Most of this air is removed before the procedure is completed. If your gastroenterologist notices something abnormal during the procedure, he or she may elect to perform a biopsy by inserting tools through the tube to remove tissue or polyps. You should not feel pain during this process.
Results of the Test
After your colonoscopy, our experienced GI team will be better able to assess your risk for colon cancer, as well as determine the source of GI symptoms like bleeding, abdominal pain and changes in bowel movements. If your gastroenterologist performed a biopsy as part of the test, these specimens will be sent to a pathologist to look at under a microscope. These results, which are typically available within one week after the procedure will be used to determine if any follow-up testing or treatment is required. Throughout the process, the team at La Peer Health Systems will keep your informed about any and all health developments.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Will I experience pain during the procedure?
Most patients do not feel any pain at all. Your doctor (or an anesthesiologist) will give you pain medication in addition to a sedative before you begin the procedure. We work with an outstanding group of anesthesiologists available to you to ensure that you are comfortable and safe during your procedure.
Can I drive myself home after my screening is complete?
Because you will be sedated during your colon cancer screening, you will not be able to drive after the procedure. Your doctor will speak to you about making arrangements for a friend or relative to pick you up after your colonoscopy.
How long will my colonoscopy take?
Your procedure will last between twenty minutes and one hour.
Are there risks associated with a colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is widely regarded as a safe procedure. However, there are a few risks of which you should be aware. The national risk of perforation (causing a tear in the lining of the colon) during a colonoscopy is 1 out of 1000 (0.1%). Our doctors have performed thousands of colonoscopies and thier rates are far better than this national average (<0.1%). Bleeding after a biopsy or polyp removal is also possible but uncommon. There have been a small number of cases of infection reported in the medical literature during a colonoscopy. At La Peer, we go through great lengths and have very stringent measures in place to ensure that infections do not occur during your procedure. Additionally, there is always a small risk of having an adverse reaction to anesthesia. Luckily, the anesthesiologists on staff at La Peer are some of the very best in the field.
When will I get the results of my colonoscopy?
Your doctor may discuss the results of your procedure immediately after the test. However, if the gastroenterologist took a tissue sample for biopsy, he or she may need to wait until a pathologist reviews it before going over the results.
A colonoscopy is generally considered the best means of detecting colon cancer. Don’t let your fear of having a colonoscopy stop you from having this life-saving procedure. To schedule a colonoscopy, contact our gastroenterologists at (888) 837-0459.
Next, read about what happens after a colonoscopy procedure.