Colonoscopy Care

Learn what care is required for the Colonoscopy procedure. Find out what you need to do prior to the procedure, how long it will take, if you will be required to stay in the hospital and what the postoperative care is.

Colonoscopy Details

Alternate Names for Colonoscopy:
Lower GI endoscopy

What to Expect Prior to Procedure

Your doctor will likely do the following:

  • Physical exam
  • Health history
  • Review of medicines
  • Test your stool for hidden blood (called "occult blood")

Your colon must be completely clean before the procedure. Any stool left in the intestine will block the view. This preparation may start several days before the procedure. Follow your doctor's instructions, which may include any of the following cleansing methods:

  • Enemas -fluid introduced into the rectum to stimulate a bowel movement
  • Laxatives-medicines that cause you to have soft bowel movements
  • A clear-liquid diet
  • Oral cathartic medicines-a large container of fluid to drink that stimulates a bowel movement

Leading up to your procedure:

  • Talk to your doctor about your medicines. You may be asked to stop taking some medicines up to one week before the procedure, like:
    • Anti-inflammatory drugs (eg, aspirin )
    • Blood thinners like clopidogrel (Plavix) or warfarin (Coumadin)
    • Iron supplements or vitamins containing iron
  • The night before, eat a light meal. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight.
  • Wear comfortable clothing.
  • If you have diabetes, ask your doctor if you need to adjust your insulin dose.
  • Arrange for a ride home after the procedure.


Your doctor may sedate you to decrease discomfort.

Description of the Procedure

You will lie on your left side with knees bent and drawn up toward your chest. The colonoscope will be slowly inserted through the rectum and into the bowel. The colonoscope will inject air into the colon. A small attached video camera will allow the doctor to view the colon's lining on a screen. The doctor will continue guiding the tool through the bowel and assess the lining.

A tissue sample or polyps may be removed during the procedure.

How Long Will It Take?

Less than one hour

Will It Hurt?

Most people report some discomfort when the instrument is inserted. You may feel cramping, muscle spasms, or lower abdominal pain during the procedure. You may also feel the urge to move your bowels. Tell the doctor if you feel any severe pain.

After the procedure, gas pains and cramping are common. These pains should go away with the passing of gas.

Post-procedure Care

If any tissue was removed:

  • It will be sent to a lab to be examined. It may take 1-2 weeks for results. The doctor will usually give an initial report after the scope is removed. Other tests may be recommended.
  • A small amount of bleeding may occur during the first few days after the procedure.

When you return home after the procedure, be sure to follow your doctor's instructions , which may include:

  • Resume medicines as instructed by your doctor.
  • Resume normal diet, unless directed otherwise by your doctor.
  • The sedative will make you drowsy. Avoid driving, operating machinery, or making important decisions for the rest of the day.
  • Rest for the remainder of the day.


Learn what Colonoscopy is
What Is
Learn what the procedure is. Find out how it is performed.
Reasons For Colonoscopy
Reasons For
Find out why and when this procedure should be done.
Colonoscopy Complications
Learn about possible complications and what might increase the risk of them.
Colonoscopy Details
What to Expect
Find out how long it will take, what they will be doing and what to expect afterwards.
Colonoscopy Results
What are the next steps and other possible tests needed after you have received the results.
When to Contact Doctor about Colonoscopy
Call Your Doctor
What to look out for and when to call your doctor after a procedure has been done.

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Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright ©2014 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved. Source: EBSCO