The colon, or large intestine, is the last portion of your digestive or gastrointestinal (GI) tract. It starts at the cecum, which attaches to the end of the small intestine. The colon consists of a hollow tube about five feet long that absorbs water and minerals from digested food. It contains the rectum, which stores undigested solid waste.
The term colonoscopy refers to a medical procedure during which a long flexible tube is used to look inside the colon. It is a procedure performed by a gastroenterologist, a well-trained specialist.
The main instrument that is used to look inside the colon is the colonoscope. The colonoscope is a long, thin, flexible tube with a tiny video camera and a light on the end. By adjusting the various controls on the colonoscope, the gastroenterologist can carefully guide the instrument in any direction to look at the inside of the colon. The high-quality picture from the colonoscope is shown on a TV monitor, and gives a clear, detailed view.
Before the Procedure
Regardless of why ERCP has been recommended for you, there are important steps you can To properly prepare for your procedure, you may need to make certain changes to your daily medication routine.
In addition to changes to your medication, you'll also need to:
Tell the doctor if you have: a pacemaker, a joint replacement, heart, lung or other medical conditions that may need special attention .
Because you will receive a relaxing medication during your procedure, you must arrange to have a responsible adult pick you up and/or accompany you home if you taking public transportation. You may not operate an automobile or other mechanical equipment until the day following your procedure.
Preparation for the Procedure
You will be given instructions in advance that will outline what you should and should not do in preparation for colonoscopy; be sure to read and follow these instructions. One very critical step is to thoroughly clean out the colon, which, for many patients, can be the most trying part of the entire exam. It is essential that you complete this step carefully, because how well the bowel is emptied will help determine how well your doctor can examine it during colonoscopy.
Various methods can be used to help cleanse the bowel, and your doctor will recommend what he or she prefers in your specific case. Often, a liquid preparation designed to stimulate bowel movements is given by mouth. Additional approaches include special diets, such as clear fluids, or the use of enemas or suppositories. Whichever method or combination of methods is recommended for you, be sure to follow instructions as directed.
Check your instructions about what to eat or drink the night before your colonoscopy and when to stop eating. Consult your doctor prior to the procedure to determine if the medications you are on should be taken or not prior to the colonoscopy.
But generally following instructions apply:
On the day before the procedure, starting at noon, do not eat solid food until the procedure is completed. Drink clear liquids only.
If you feel full or experience nausea or significant abdominal pain, wait before drinking the next glass. It may be easier to drink each glass rapidly rather than drinking small amounts continuously. Drink the entire volume of fluid. You should begin having bowel movements within the hour. Then continue drinking lemon water or cold drinks or clear liquids till the procedure.
During the Procedure
During the procedure, everything will be done to ensure that you will be as comfortable as possible. An intravenous line, or IV, will be placed to give you medication to make you relaxed and drowsy. The drug may enable you to remain awake and cooperative while preventing you from remembering much of the experience.
Once you are fully relaxed, your doctor will first do a rectal exam with a gloved, lubricated finger; then the lubricated colonoscope will be gently inserted.
As the scope is slowly and carefully passed, you may feel as if you need to move your bowels, and because air is introduced to help advance the scope, you may feel some cramping or fullness. Generally, however, there is little or no discomfort.
The time needed for colonoscopy will vary, depending in part on what is found and what is done; the procedure itself usually takes anywhere from 15 to 60 minutes .Afterwards, you will be cared for in a recovery area until most of the effects of the medication have worn off. At this time, your doctor will inform you about the results of your colonoscopy and provide any additional information you need to know. You will also be given instructions regarding how soon you can eat and drink, plus other guidelines for resuming your normal routine.
Risks of this Procedure
Very rarely, heart and lung problems such as:
People with ill health are more at risk. Healthy people may feel very drowsy for a few days afterwards. The procedure is immediately stopped if anything happens. Rarely, drugs may be given to take away the effects of the sedation and at worse life saving procedures may be needed.
Death due to complications of colonoscopy is extremely rare.
Be sure to discuss any specific concerns you may have about the procedure with your doctor.
After the Procedure
When your colonoscopy is completed you will be cared for in a recovery area until most of the effects of the medication have worn off.
When your colonoscopy is completed on an outpatient basis, you will need to remain under observation until your doctor or healthcare team has decided you can return home. Sometimes, admission to the hospital is necessary.
For your safety you must:
Tell your doctor immediately if you:
Your doctor will explain the results of the examination to you or arrange for you to come back to hospital and talk to you about the results.