Regular colonoscopies can save your life

Most patients who develop colon cancer have no obvious risk factors. If you have a colon, you are at risk for colon cancer. That’s why colonoscopies are vital for your health.

The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 50,000 people will die from colorectal cancer in 2017. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among U.S. men and the third leading cause among U.S. women.

The good news? The death rate continues to drop, thanks to early screenings and better treatment. The key is to have regular exams as you age.

Who is a candidate for a colonoscopy?

    • Are you over the age of 50?
    • Do you have unexplained bowel habits?
    • Do you have a family history of colon cancer?
    • Do you suffer from rectal bleeding?

If you answered yes to any of these question, then schedule your colonoscopy today!

What is a colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is a procedure in which a physician uses a colonoscope with a camera to look inside your rectum and colon. Colonoscopy can show irritated and swollen tissue, ulcers, polyps, and cancer.

Illustration: Colonoscopy

How is a colonoscopy performed?

A small catheter for intravenous (IV) medicines will deliver sedating medicine into your arm that will make you relaxed and sleepy. For some patients, deep sedation, where the patient is completely asleep, is utilized. You will be placed in a comfortable position on your left side and your physician will examine the rectum gently with a lubricated, gloved finger. The colonoscope will then be placed into your rectum and advanced to permit examination of the colon. You may feel some cramping or gas from air that is introduced during the procedure. There may also be some discomfort as the instrument negotiates turns or bends in the colon. You may be placed into a different position during the examination (such as on your back) in order to facilitate passage of the instrument through the entire large bowel. The nurse assisting the doctor during this procedure may also compress the abdomen with his or her hand in order to reduce looping of the colonoscope and facilitate passage of the instrument through the colon.

What are the risks of an colonoscopy?

This is a safe procedure. There are no major risks or complications associated with this procedure? Colonoscopy and polypectomy are safe and associated with very low risk. One possible complication is perforation, or tear through the wall of the bowel that may allow leakage of intestinal fluids. This complication usually requires surgery for treatment. Bleeding may occur from the site of biopsy or polyp removal. It is usually minor and stops on its own or can be controlled by cauterization (application of an electrical current) through the colonoscope. Rarely transfusions or surgery are required. Irritation of a vein at the site where medications were administered may also occur. Drug reactions may also occur despite careful review of an individual’s medical history. Finally, like any test, pathology may be missed in a small number of cases leading to an error in diagnosis.

How do I prepare for a colonoscopy?

You would have to complete bowel prep lets you pass stool that is clear and liquid. Stool inside your intestine can prevent your doctor from clearly seeing the lining.

Illustration of the intestine

What can I expect after a colonoscopy?

You will most likely be groggy due to the sedative. You will be kept in the recovery area until most of the effects of the medication have worn off (20 – 30 minutes). You may feel somewhat bloated after the examination because of air that was introduced to perform the examination. You will be able to resume your diet after the examination but you may receive special dietary guidelines based upon the findings of the colonoscopy or if a polyp is removed. The findings of the examination will be reviewed with you and additional recommendations, if necessary, will be discussed.

How much does this procedure cost?

Visit Our Pricing Page. Schedule and appointment to find out today!

Preparing for your colonoscopy

The prep helps your doctor spot signs of trouble

Drinking a laxative prep to cleanse the bowel is not everyone’s favorite thing to do. But it’s a key part of your colonoscopy. “If the colon lining is not clear of solid and liquid, then bowel residue polyps — which are a precursor for cancer — are sometimes missed,” says Dr. Burke.

Good preps make the exam more effective and efficient. If your prep is poor, the doctor may need to repeat your exam — and you’ll need to repeat the prep.

Three steps for a good prep

You’ll start preparing for your colonoscopy a couple of days before you drink the bowel-cleansing agent.

  1. Cut out fiber. Two days before your exam, you’ll switch to a low-fiber diet.
  2. Switch to clear liquids. One day before the exam, you’ll drink only clear liquids. “You need a lot of clear liquids to stay optimally hydrated and help flush the prep through the intestinal tract,” says Dr. Burke. “We have learned that having fewer hours between finishing the prep and starting the colonoscopy is the optimal cleansing strategy.”
  3. Start the prep. Many physicians today prescribe a split-dose regimen, where you take half the prep the night before and the other half the morning of the procedure. If you have an afternoon exam, you can drink the prep the morning of the procedure. If you have a morning exam (before noon), you can drink half the prep the night before and the other half about four hours before the colonoscopy. “Every day, it’s an early morning for the first few patients we examine, but they have the best clean-out,” says Dr. Burke.

In a recent study, she and other researchers compared the split-dose prep to conventional bowel-cleansing methods. They found that a split-dose bowel preparation decreased the intensity and duration of bowel movements, caused less patient inconvenience and improved bowel preparation.

Before your exam

Fill prescription for your prep at your local pharmacy.

7 days before your colonoscopy

If you take aspirin or NSAIDS such as Advil, Motrin, Celebrex or Ibuprofen, you may continue to take them as usual unless otherwise instructed by your physician. You should discuss this with your physician in advance of the procedure. Ask your doctor for specific instructions if you take a blood thinner like Plavix, Pradaxa, Clopidogrel, Coumadin, Warfarin, Effient, Prasugrel or Lovenox.

3 days before your colonoscopy

Stop eating all nuts, seeds and popcorn.

1 day before your colonoscopy

Begin a clear liquid diet. Drink at least 8 glasses of water during the day to avoid dehydration.

Clear Liquid

  • Gatorade, Pedialyte or Powerade
  • Clear Broth or Bouillon
  • Coffee or Tea (No Milk or Non-Dairy Creamer)
  • Carbonated and Non-Carbonated Soft Drinks
  • Kool-Aid or Other Fruit-Flavored Drinks
  • Strained Fruit Juices (No pulp)
  • Jell-O, Popsicles, Hard Candy

Not Clear Liquid

  • No red or purple items of any kind
  • No alcohol
  • No milk or non dairy creamers
  • No noodles or vegetables in soup
  • No juice with pulp
  • No liquid you cannot see through

At 6 pm, drink one 8 oz. glass of NuLytely solution and continue drinking one 8 oz. glass every 15 minutes until the bottle is empty. Your doctor may have recommended a split-dose prep. If this is the case, only drink 3 liters of prep solution. Do not drink any other liquids while you are drinking the NuLytely solution.

Day of your colonoscopy

You may take all of your usual morning medications with 4 oz. of water up to 3 hours prior to your procedure. Bring a list of all of your current medications, including any over-the-counter medications.

*If your physician recommended the split-dose prep, drink the final 1 liter of prep solution five hours before your procedure and consume it within one hour

You are ready for the exam if you followed all instructions and your stool is no longer formed, but clear or yellow liquid.

Colon cleansing tip

  1. Stay near a toilet! You will have diarrhea, which can be quite sudden. This is normal.
  2. Continue to drink the prep solution every 15 minutes as directed. Occasionally, this may involve drinking the solution while sitting on the toilet.
  3. Rarely, people may experience nausea or vomiting with the prep. If this occurs, give yourself a 30-90 minute break, rinse your mouth or brush your teeth, then continue drinking the prep solution.
  4. It is common to experience abdominal discomfort until the stool has flushed from your colon (this may take 2 to 4 hours, and occasionally significantly longer).
  5. Anal skin irritation or a flare of hemorrhoidal inflammation may occur and can be treated with a variety of over the counter remedies including hydrocortisone creams, baby wipes or Tucks pads. Avoid products containing alcohol. If you have a prescription for hemorrhoid cream, you may use it. Do not use suppositories.

Colonoscopy Prep Instructions

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