Your physician has determined that colonoscopy is necessary for further evaluation or treatment of your condition. This page has been prepared to help you understand the procedure. It includes answers to questions patients ask most frequently. Please read it carefully. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to discuss them with the endoscopy nurse or your physician before the examination begins.
You may also view the patient preparation information:
Patient Procedure Instructions
What is a Colonoscopy?
What preparation is required?
What about my current medications?
What can be expected during colonoscopy?
What if the colonoscopy shows something abnormal?
What are polyps and why are they removed?
How are polyps removed?
What happens after colonoscopy?
After colonoscopy, your physician will explain the results to you. If you have been given medications during the procedure, someone must accompany you home from the procedure because of the sedation used during the examination. Even if you feel alert after the procedure, your judgment and reflexes may be impaired by the sedation for the rest of the day, making it unsafe for you to drive or operate any machinery.
You may have some cramping or bloating because of the air introduced into the colon during the examination. This should disappear quickly with passage of flatus (gas). Generally, you should able to eat after leaving the endoscopy, but your doctor may restrict your diet and activities after polypectomy.
What are the possible complications of colonoscopy?
Colonoscopy and polypectomy are generally safe when performed by physicians who have been specially trained and are experienced in these endoscopic procedures.
One possible complication is a perforation or tear through the wall that could require surgery. Bleeding may occur from the site of biopsy or polypectomy. It is usually minor and stops on its own or can be controlled through the colonoscope. Rarely, blood transfusions or surgery may be required. Other potential risks include a reaction to the sedative used and complications from heart or lung disease. Localized irritation of the vein where medications were injected may rarely cause a tender lump for several weeks, but this will go away eventually. Applying hot packs or hot moist towels may help relieve discomfort.
Although complications after colonoscopy are uncommon, it is important for you to recognize early signs of any possible complication. Contact your physician who performed the colonoscopy if you notice any of the following symptoms: severe abdominal pain, fever and chills, or rectal bleeding of more than one-half cup. Bleeding can occur several days after polypectomy.