A colonoscopy is a medical screening procedure that allows doctors to view the inside of the colon for obstructions, polyps, bleeding, swelling and colorectal cancer. Sometimes these procedures are ordered for patients with symptoms of bowel obstructions or cancer. However, doctors often recommend getting a colonoscopy as a preventative screening tool to check for cancerous growths and pre-cancerous polyps among people with an elevated risk for colon cancer, whether due to age, ethnicity, or family history.
Did you know that your doctor can remove polyps during your colonoscopy without the need for a secondary procedure? The equipment used during the colonoscopy is designed to quickly and painlessly remove abnormal growths from the wall of the colon. Most polyps are not cancerous, though they can grow and eventually turn into cancerous tissue. By removing the polyps during their pre-cancerous stage, doctors can help lower a patient’s risk of developing cancer later in life.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Who needs a colonoscopy?
You may need a colonoscopy if you have unexplained intestinal or digestive problems, such as abdominal pain, changes in your bowel habits, or blood in your stool. Colonoscopies are also recommended for preventative screening against colon cancer for men and women over age 50. The American College of Gastroenterology recommends certain people groups get screened before age 50. This includes people with a family history of colorectal cancer, as well as African American men and women, who should be screened at age 45 due to their increased risk for colon cancer. Preventative colonoscopies are performed according to a schedule recommended by your doctor – usually once every 10 years.
How will I prepare for my colonoscopy?
The preparation period is very important to ensuring your colonoscopy is a success. In the 1 or 2 days leading up to your procedure, you will follow a special diet and use a prescribed laxative to help clear the bowels. This process requires that you be close to a bathroom at all times, so you may consider taking the day off from work or changing your plans to accommodate the preparatory period.
What should I expect during a colonoscopy procedure?
Your doctor will insert a flexible, thin tube into your rectum and ease it through the colon while you lie on your side. This tube has a small camera on the end that transmits live imaging to a screen for your doctor to view. You may feel some cramping as air is puffed into the colon to keep it open, though most people report little or no discomfort. The entire exam will take approximately a half hour, though you may be held for a few hours after the colonoscopy for observation before being allowed to go home.
When should I stop eating solid foods?
You should stop eating solid foods the day before your procedure. For example, if your procedure is on Monday, your last meal of solid food should be Sunday morning with white toast, plain yogurt, and eggs only. You will be on clear liquids the rest of the day.
Can I take my other medications?
Yes. Continue your regular medications such as your high blood pressure medications. If you are diabetic, refer to the diabetic supplement sheet.
Can I have lemonade, orange, or grapefruit juice?
No. These juices have pulp that can clog up the fiber optic scope.
Can I have water?
Why do I need to stop fish oil?
Fish oil leaves an odorous, oily residue in your colon that can clog up the scope.
The instructions say not to take iron. Can I continue my multi-vitamin?
Is Vitamin E OK?
Why am I getting a whole gallon (of TriLyte) when my friend said (s)he only needed to take a small over–the-counter bottle that seemed to work just fine?
The Fleet’s PhosphoSoda prep may be mildly dehydrating and is not appropriate for everyone, especially elderly patients or those with kidney disease. The FDA has pulled Fleet’s as an over-the-counter option. The pills, Osmoprep, contain the same ingredients. In addition, this prep does not cleanse the colon throughly for those who tend to be more constipated.
I finished the entire prep exactly as instructed but I’m still noticing particles in the toilet and it’s not clear. My procedure is today – is this OK?
Yes. If you finished the prep as instructed, had diarrhea the previous night, and now have only small particles of loose stool, then keep your procedure appointment.
I am experiencing some discomfort on my bottom. Can I use some Vaseline or Baby Wipe type of product?
Yes. If you are experiencing discomfort from wiping, use a moist Baby Wipe type towelette and apply some Vaseline type petroleum based ointment to help with the discomfort.
Why will I receive two separate packets of paperwork for this procedure?
The facility where the procedure will be performed is not a part of Overlake Internal Medicine Associates. They are a separate business that requires a separate set of paperwork to read and fill out. Read all of the information you receive; it’s important.
Why will I get four separate bills for my procedure?
There may be up to four different business involved in your care, one for the doctor, one for the facility, one for anesthesia, and one if you have tissue biopsied or removed during the procedure.
Who do I call if I have questions?
If you have questions prior to the day of the procedure, please call the doctor’s office at 425-467-0150, option 5. If you have questions relating to the procedure, on the day of the procedure, please call the facility.