Doctors perform a colonoscopy to check for abnormalities inside the large intestine and the rectum. They use a device called a colonoscope, which is a flexible tube with a camera attached to the end.

Reasons for having the procedure

Your doctor may recommend you have a colonoscopy if:

  • You are experiencing abdominal pain, change in your bowel movements, weight loss, blood in your stool, black or tarry stools
  • Polyps were found during a previous exam
  • You have anemia or inflammatory bowel disease
  • It is time for your regular colorectal cancer screening (The American Cancer Society recommends that people of average risk of colorectal cancer start regular screening at age 45)

Schedule an Appointment

Find a doctor at South Texas Health System Clinics who can evaluate your condition and perform a colonoscopy.

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Preparing for the test

The surgeon is able to see your insides more clearly when the bowel is completely empty and clean. Your doctor will recommend the proper procedure for cleaning your bowel before the exam. This may involve taking a laxative or using an enema, and not eating solid foods for one to three days prior to the exam.

Description of the procedure

  • You will be given anesthesia so you won’t feel anything during the procedure. You may be awake but you probably won’t remember anything.
  • You will lie on your side and the colonoscope will be inserted through your anus. The surgeon will slide the scope through your intestines as far as the lowest part of the small intestine.
  • If any polyps are found, the surgeon will normally remove them using tiny tools inserted through the scope. Pictures can also be taken if needed.
  • The procedure only takes between 30 – 60 minutes.

After the procedure

For a short time after the procedure you may feel cramps in your stomach and pass gas. You may also feel bloated or sick to your stomach.

You should be ready to go home about one hour after the procedure. You must have someone with you to drive you home because you will not be able to drive.

Follow the postoperative instructions provided by your surgeon. They may include drinking plenty of fluids and eating a healthy meal to restore energy, and avoiding driving, operating machinery, or drinking alcohol for at least 24 hours after the exam.

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