Frequently Asked Questions
What is Endoscopy?
Endoscopy procedures are minimally-invasive procedures in which a thin, flexible, and steerable instrument, called an endoscope, is used to examine the interior surfaces of an organ. The endoscope is engineered with a light and camera to allow the physician (endoscopist) direct visualization as well as the ability to take biopsies of suspicious areas and to remove polyps that could be pre-cancerous.
What is a Colonoscopy?
Colonoscopy is a procedure, using an endoscope called a colonoscope, which allows the doctor to examine the entire large colon using direct visualization. It is effective in diagnosis and/or evaluation of various gastrointestinal (GI) disorders (e.g. colon polyps, colon cancer, diverticulosis, inflammatory bowel disease, bleeding, change in bowel habits, abdominal pain, obstruction, and abnormal x-rays or CT scans) as well as providing therapy (for example, removal of polyps or control of bleeding).
How common is colon cancer?
In the United States, colon cancer cause the second-most cancer related deaths. Each year, there are approximately 150,000 new cases of colorectal cancer and approximately 50,000 colon cancer related deaths. However, recent data has shown that both these numbers decrease when colonoscopy is preformed according to the established guidelines.
What is the “prep” for colonscopy like?
There are a variety of preparation methods for colonscopy. All of them are designed to rid the colon of feces. A clean colon is essential for the endoscopist to complete a thorough and adequate examination of the colon for polyps and other abnormalities. The best method of colonic preparation should be discussed with the endoscopist and take into account various factors such as age, personal preference, current health status and physical stamina.
Can I eat the day before my colonoscopy?
No, you cannot eat any solid food the day before a colonoscopy. However, clear liquids are allowed. Again, it is very important to have an empty bowel during your colonoscopy so the endoscopist can easily visualize any abnormalities. Your exam is only as good as your preparation.
Will the colonscopy hurt?
This is very uncommon as you will be sedated during the procedure. However, some patients may experience minor cramping, in recovery, from the air the endoscopist used to inflate the folds of the colon during examination. Passing gas will relieve these symptoms.
Can I drive home after a colonoscopy?
No. Although you may feel fine, the medications used to sedate you during the procedure, are still in your system up to eight hours post-procedure.
Is it normal to feel gassy after a colonoscopy?
Yes. Air is introduced during the procedure so the doctor can get a good view of the entire lining of the colon. As the endoscopist is completing the exam every effort is made to remove the air so you do not wake up feeling bloated or gassy. For the few patients that experience these symptoms they are mild and short lasting.
Are there any complications from colonoscopy?
Yes, but potential complications are associated with virtually every form of testing in medicine. A colonoscopy has been found to be extremely safe when performed by a well-trained physician.
How can I prevent colon cancer from forming?
The best way to prevent colon cancer is through a healthy diet, regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and regular colon cancer screenings.