What is a Colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy involves inserting a colonoscope (a flexible tube that is approximately the thickness of a finger) through the rectum into the large intestine (colon). The colonoscope allows the doctor to carefully examine the lining of the colon. Abnormalities of the colon can be seen in great detail. If the doctor sees a suspicious area or needs to evaluate an area of inflammation in greater detail, he can pass an instrument through the colonoscope and take a small piece of tissue (biopsy) for examination in the laboratory. Biopsies are taken for many reasons and do not necessarily mean that cancer is suspected.
Blood in the stool or rectal bleeding
Weight loss associated with gastrointestinal symptoms
Family history of colon cancer
Abnormal imaging studies such as CT scan or barium enema
Previous history of colon polyps or cancer
Surveillance for inflammatory bowel disease
Chronic unexplained abdominal pain
What to expect the day of your procedure
Please arrive 45 minutes prior to your scheduled procedure time at the Saint Francis GI Endoscopy (SFGIE) center’s reception area. At this time a member of our staff will greet you and review the registration form, HIPAA policy and financial agreement.
After these steps have been completed, a SFGIE nurse or technician will escort you to the pre-procedure area to review your medical history and consent forms for the procedure. A physician from Woodland Anesthesiology Associates will also meet with you to discuss the monitored sedation that will be provided by an anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist during your endoscopy and/or colonoscopy. At the time of your procedure, you will have an opportunity to visit with your gastroenterologist about any last minute questions or concerns.
Once your colonoscopy has been completed, you will be in the recovery area where another SFGIE nurse will monitor your recovery from the sedation and offer you a snack. You will also be given a detailed report of your exam and your gastroenterologist will meet with you once more to discuss the results of the procedure.
During the course of the Colonoscopy examination, a polyp may be found. Polyps are abnormal growth of tissue, which vary in size from a tiny dot to several inches. To remove a polyp during a colonoscopy, the doctor will pass a wire loop or snare through the colonoscope and sever the attachment of the polyp from the intestinal wall by means of an electrical current. You should feel no pain during the removal of the polyp.
Polyps are usually removed because they can cause rectal bleeding or contain cancer. Although the majority of polyps are benign (non-cancerous), a small percentage may contain an area of cancer in them or may develop into cancer. Removal of colon polyps, therefore, is an important means of prevention and cure of colon cancer, which is a leading form of cancer in the United States.
After Procedure Care
You will be kept in the center until most of the effects of the medication have worn off. With newer medications used, you will feel the effects of the medication wearing off very soon after the completion of the procedure. You may feel bloated for a few minutes right after the procedure because of the air that was introduced. You will be able to resume your diet after the procedure unless you are instructed otherwise.
Please be accompanied by someone that can drive you back home. You will not be permitted to drive home alone. Do not operate equipment or vehicles, or make important decisions until the following morning.
Below, are links to post procedure instructions. If you have any questions about the instructions, call us at (860) 683-9991, ext. 106 Monday through Friday 7:00AM – 4:00PM and ask for an Endoscopy nurse. If we are not in, please call your physician.
Complications from Colonoscopy/Polypectomy
Colonoscopies are safe and are associated with very low risk when performed by physicians who have been specially trained and are experienced in these types of endoscopic procedures. Although complications such as bleeding or perforation can occur, they are very rare. Death is an extremely rare occurrence. The most common complaint is vein irritation at the injection site, it can leave a painful knots or swelling that may last several weeks.
You must contact your physician if you have any of the following:
• Severe abdominal pain
• Blood in the stool