THE MORNING OF THE PROCEDURE
Do Not Eat or Drink ANYTHING the day of the test, except morning medicines with a small sip of water up to 4 hours before the test. DO NOT CHEW GUM, HARD CANDY, or SMOKE UNLESS given other instructions. This also includes ALL inhalers. Bring a current list of meds and doses with you.
A colonoscopy involves putting a thin black tube with a light on its end inside your rectum which allows your doctor to look at your large intestine. A colonoscopy is performed to evaluate abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, anemia, change in bowel movements, abnormalities on x-rays and to check for polyps or cancer. Polyps are abnormal growths in your colon. Certain types of polyps can contain cancer or over a period of years can become a cancer. If a polyp is removed during a colonoscopy it cannot become a cancer. For these reasons, and potentially others, your doctor wishes you to have a colonoscopy.
We must know your medical history so we can do the colonoscopy safely. If you have an artificial heart valve, any history of endocarditis, or mitral valve prolapse with a murmur you may need to be given special antibiotics to prevent an infection. This is called antibiotic prophylaxis. Recent changes in the guidelines allow us to avoid using antibiotics in most situations.
The goal of the preparation for the colonoscopy is to cleanse the colon in order to adequately visualize it during the time of the colonoscopy. If there is stool in the colon, we may not be able to do the examination or we might miss a small polyp. After the preparation, your last bowel movement should look like water or, at the most, be clear though lightly colored. If your bowel movements are not clear, call the office right away.
Consume only clear liquids the WHOLE day before the procedure. Clear liquids include: coffee, tea, soda, water, plain Jell-O, strained soups, lemon water ice, popsicles, Gatorade, broth, and clear juices. Please do not consume any liquids that are red or purple in color. All other medications may be taken on the day of the test, 4 hours before the test with a small sip of water, unless you have been given specific instructions to hold certain medicines.
You must have someone drive you to the examination and take you home as the medicine we give you (Anesthesia) makes you drowsy and unable to drive for at least 8-10 hours after the procedure.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN BEFORE THE TEST?
The examination will take place at our Ambulatory Surgery Center (Burlington County Endoscopy Center), or at Virtua Memorial Hospital of Burlington County depending on your medical insurance and/or medical history.
This test is done with you lying on your left side with your knees bent. We will give you Anesthesia (through an intravenous (IV) line) to make you drowsy and comfortable during the exam. You will be asleep before we start. If you become uncomfortable, more medicine can be given. If you are allergic to eggs, sulfites, soybeans or Latex, please let us know BEFORE we start the exam.
Before starting, we will do a rectal examination. During the colonoscopy exam, the colon will be inflated with air to expand the walls of the colon so it can be examined more effectively. This air can make you feel bloated and uncomfortable but is only temporary. The colon has many twists and turns and when pushing the colonoscope past these turns, you rarely may feel a cramping pain or tugging sensation which usually passes when the instrument is straightened out. We may shift your position to make it easier to examine your colon. After the exam is completed, although it may be embarrassing, passing of the air is encouraged as this will help relieve the bloating and cramping which may occur. The doctor or nurse will help you move if needed.
AFTER THE EXAM
After the examination, you will be transported into the recovery room to rest allowing the medicine to wear off. Again, you may feel bloated because of the air used during the procedure and will be encouraged to pass this air as this will help make you more comfortable. If you have had a polyp removed, we ask you not to leave town for at least 24 hours so if there are any problems such as severe pain, nausea, vomiting, or bleeding, we can immediately respond to help you. If any of these symptoms should occur following your procedure, please call the Center. If the Burlington County Endoscopy Center is closed (normal hours 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM 609-267-1555), there is a doctor on-call 24 hours/day who can be contacted at 609-265-1700, or you may contact the nearest Emergency Room (Virtua Memorial Hospital 609-267-0700) if you cannot reach the Doctor on call within 15 minutes if you are having a severe problem.
It is important to know that occasionally, because of previous abdominal surgery or because you may have a colon with many twists and turns, we may not be able to see your entire colon. If this happens, we will recommend other tests to complete the examination of your colon.
Colonoscopies are very safe, but as with all procedures, there are some risks of which you should be aware. These risks include but are not limited to the risk of having a perforation. This means that in one out of every 500 to 1000 colonoscopies, a hole can be made in your colon. If this occurs, you will be hospitalized and may need surgery to repair this hole and to prevent any serious infection.
The medicine we give you to make you comfortable will make you sleepy and can slow your breathing. All patients are placed on a heart monitor so the doctor and nurses can observe your heartbeats and be aware of any problems or EKG changes which may occur. A pulse oximeter is used to monitor your breathing during sedation. If we feel there is problem which puts the patient in danger, the procedure will be stopped immediately.
The colonoscopy is the best way we currently have to evaluate the colon but it is not perfect. Small polyps can be missed in up to 5% to 15% of patients by hiding behind folds or underneath residual stool. This is why it is so important to follow the prep instructions carefully and have the colon completely clean for the test.
If after reading this you have any questions, please contact your doctor. The number to the office is 609-265-1700.
Alternative methods to evaluate the colon include a barium enema, flexible sigmoidoscopy, or the new virtual colonoscopy. The virtual colonoscopy also requires thorough bowel prep and if polyps are found, you will need a colonoscopy to remove them. If you have questions about these alternative methods, please don’t hesitate to ask us to explain these to you.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN AFTER THE TEST?
THERE WILL BE A $50 CANCELLATION FEE CHARGED DIRECTLY TO YOU, THE PATIENT, IF THE EXAM IS CANCELLED
LESS THAN 72 HOURS FROM THE DATE OF THE EXAM.
This is for informational purposes only and is not designed to replace a discussion with your Doctor.