A colonoscopy is an outpatient procedure designed to inspect the inside of your colon and rectum.
The colon is inflated using air and camera attached to a thin, flexible tube is inserted. Patients will be sedated or put under for this procedure after being asked to lay on their left side. This procedure has many purposes, such as cancer screenings, diagnosing Celiac disease, finding polyps and locating bleeding, ulcers or inflammation. Depending on the purpose of the colonoscopy and what your doctor finds, your procedure may or may not involve the collection of tissue samples, or biopsy.
Many people cringe at the prospect of a colonoscopy, but not usually due to the procedure itself. Before you undergo a colonoscopy, you must follow a strict regiment in order to prepare for it. Although it can be unpleasant, it's essential for the most accurate colonoscopy results.
The day before you're scheduled for your procedure, you'll be asked to follow special dietary restrictions. You may consume all of the clear fluids you wish, such as water, soda and broth. Tea and coffee may be consumed without the addition of creamer or milk. It's strongly recommended that you avoid drinking red beverages, as these may be mistaken for blood when they reach the colon. In general, your doctor will recommend that you cease drinking anything after 12 a.m. the day of the colonoscopy. Solid foods are prohibited for 24 hours before your procedure is scheduled.
Next, you can expect your doctor to either recommend taking a laxative or provide a special one for you. You may be advised to take the laxative the night prior, and possibly even on the morning of your colonoscopy. Laxatives help to clean out your colon, which prevents fecal residue from interfering with the accuracy of the procedure.
If the laxatives you've taken aren't thorough enough, you may also be advised to use an enema. Depending on your doctor's recommendations, you'll use this either the night before or in the hours preceding the colonoscopy procedure. This ensures that your colon is completely emptied and cleaned. You should be prepared to spend a considerable portion of the day before sitting on the toilet.
If you're taking any medications, it's critical to notify your doctor. There is a possibility that the dosages may need to be adjusted up to a week prior to your colonoscopy. In particular, your doctor needs to know about blood thinners, diabetes medications, aspirin, high blood pressure drugs and iron supplements. There is a minor risk of bleeding with a colonoscopy, and adjusting the dosages of these medications helps to reduce that risk.
If the preparation isn't going as expected or you're unsure of the instructions, it's important to call your doctor. He or she may be able to recommend a different method or give you a clearer idea of what you should be doing. Colonoscopies may be tedious, but they're an important part of preventative and diagnostic medicine. By properly preparing for the procedure, you can help ensure that the results are as accurate as possible.