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What is a colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is a minimally-invasive procedure that uses an instrument called a colonoscope to look inside your large intestine (or colon) and your rectum. Colonoscopy is a vital part of screening for colorectal cancerinflammatory bowel disease, and other bowel-related conditions. It’s performed as an outpatient procedure, which means you can go home soon after the procedure is completed.

The colonoscope is long and flexible and features a light and a tiny camera on one end. It is the width of your index finger. As it moves through your colon and rectum, it takes pictures and videos that are sent back to a viewing monitor.

What preparation is required before a colonoscopy?

Your doctor will give you specific dietary and prep instructions for your test. It’s important to make sure your bowels can be easily viewed during the procedure, so be sure to follow the instructions closely. In general, you will avoid high fiber foods the week prior to your test. The day prior to your colonoscopy, you will stop eating solid food and will switch to a clear liquid diet where you can have things like water, jello, and Gatorade. You will drink a special liquid laxative to clear your bowel contents. Two hours before your procedure you avoid drinking any further liquid to assure your stomach is empty.

What is involved in a colonoscopy?

When you arrive at the center you will be registered and interviewed by our team. The nurse will place an intravenous line and the anesthesiologist will administer gentle sedation. You will lay on your left side during the procedure while the physician inserts the colonoscope through your anus to examine your large intestine. You may have some mild gas, bloating during the procedure but most people sleep the entire time and have no discomfort.

If a polyp or abnormal area is found, special instruments within the scope can be used to remove the polyp or sample the abnormal tissue. The polyps and tissue samples are then sent to a laboratory to be evaluated to determine if cancer or another disease may be present. Most procedures take 30 to 45 minutes to complete.

Can I go home after my endoscopy or colonoscopy?

Yes, colonoscopy is performed on an outpatient basis and you can go home shortly afterward. Immediately after your procedure, you’ll spend some time in a recovery area while the sedation wears off and you can eat immediately. The doctor will speak with you before you go home and go over the results. If any biopsies were taken, those will come back in 1-2 weeks. You’ll need to have someone escort you home, and you should plan to take it easy the rest of the day. You cannot drive a car on the day of the exam.

Where are these procedures performed?

Our physicians complete procedures at two state of the art dedicated endoscopy centers listed below.

By: New York Gastroenteroloy

Reviewed by: James Aisenberg, MD


Last Reviewed: Apr 2nd, 2021

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