Procedure Questions

Why is it so important to follow my prep instructions?
The cleaner your colon is, the safer and more complete your exam. If your colon is not well cleaned out, your doctor may have to qualify your results by saying, “Well, I didn’t see any polyps, but I couldn’t see every surface.” If your prep is quite unsatisfactory, your doctor may recommend you reschedule another colonoscopy (with another prep). It is therefore very much in your best interest to try to follow your prep instructions as best as possible.

Why do I have to show up early before my scheduled test time?
Some time is required before the procedure starts for changing into a gown, getting your IV started, answering nursing questions, last minute trips to the bathroom, etc.

Will I feel anything?
All cramping and potential discomfort won’t be felt, as you will receive comfortable and safe sedation, given by our anesthesiology team. Most patients are given two medications through their IV line. One is a narcotic, which provides relief from pain and contributes to drowsiness. The other is a sedative, which makes one sleepy and also causes a brief amnesia surrounding the procedure, making it hard to remember the procedure itself. Together, these medications provide what is called conscious sedation. The patient is sleepy and comfortable, but can still be awakened if shaken or called by name. Conscious sedation is much safer that general anesthesia, and it is all that is required for a procedure such as a colonoscopy.

What are polyps?
The most common reason for having a colonoscopy is to detect and remove polyps. Polyps are small mushroom- like growths of the colon lining. They are significant because almost all colon cancers start off as polyps, and having polyps removed can reduce the risk of developing colon cancer. Most, but not all, polyps can be removed at the time of colonoscopy. No one knows exactly what causes polyps to grow. It is not thought to be significantly related to diet or other environmental factors, and mostly reflects genetic susceptibility and the effects of aging.

If the doctor removes polyps, they will be sent to the lab where a pathologist will examine them under the microscope. Your doctor will then send you a letter or call you regarding the results of this pathology exam.

How long is the colon?
It varies from person to person, but ranges from 4 to 6 feet.

What are diverticula?
Diverticula are small-pocket like sacs in the wall of the bowel. Anatomically speaking, they are actually herniations of the inner bowel lining out through the bowel’s muscle layer. They are thought to develop over time from muscular squeezing by the colon wall. They are not growths and have no pre-cancerous potential. They are extremely common, especially in people over age 50. They rarely cause problems, but occasionally get infected (called diverticulitis) or bleed.

Will my doctor tell me my results?
Yes. You might feel wide awake immediately after the procedure is completed, but you often won’t remember any discussion with the doctor at that point. Therefore, your doctor will visit you in the recovery room about 30 minutes after your procedure is completed and review your results with you, as well as any special instructions and plans for future care or tests. The reason for waiting 30 minutes is to allow time for the medication to wear off so that you will remember the discussion better. Nevertheless, some patients still have trouble remembering, and so it is best if you can have a family member present.

Can I resume taking my usual medications after the procedure?
Generally yes. However, if any polyps are removed, you should not take any non-steroidal medicines for 2 weeks after the procedure. Non-steroidals are pain and arthritis medicines such as aspirin, Motrin, ibuprofen, Advil, Aleve, etc. This includes baby aspirin. If you usually take Coumadin, you should discuss when to restart it when you speak to the doctor in the recovery room.

After the test, when can I start eating?
You can eat when you get home. But you should start slowly and avoid greasy or fatty food for your first meal.

Can I go back to work the same day?
You can work the same day, and some people do, but you can’t drive for the rest of the day. You may also still feel drowsy from the sedation. You should not do anything which might be hazardous, though, such as operating power tools, etc.


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