Your doctor has advised you to have a colonoscopy, a non-surgical endoscopic procedure. This routine exam allows your doctor to see directly inside your lower digestive tract (colon and rectum). It can help diagnose diseases of the colon. It is also the best method of screening for colon cancer.


The colonoscope consists of a long, flexible tube with a small camera and light on one end. The other end is held by your doctor who gently advances the camera through your colon. The colonoscope is connected to a TV monitor so that the lining of the colon may be viewed. Instruments for performing biopsies and other procedures can be passed through the scope.

Viewing Your Colon

Your colon and rectum normally have a smooth lining. If your doctor sees polyps or other growths during colonoscopy, they can often be removed. Your doctor may take a biopsy of a large growth to study the tissue further. Colonoscopy helps your doctor to diagnose other abnormalities, such as bleeding or an area of inflammation, and to prescribe the best treatment for them.

Preparing for Colonoscopy

You will be given instructions for a bowel preparation that you will begin the day before your colonoscopy. Because you will be sedated during the colonoscopy, you will need to make advanced arrangements for someone to take you home following the exam.

Bowel Pre-op instructions

During Colonoscopy

On arrival to the endoscopy area, an IV catheter will be inserted into a vein. Your vital signs will be monitored during the procedure. You will receive sedating medications. The lubricated colonoscope is then inserted slowly and gently through your anus. Because your doctor needs a clear view, air is used to inflate your colon. As a result, you may feel some pressure and cramping. The procedure usually takes less than an hour. When the exam is over, you’ll be taken to the recovery area.

After Colonoscopy

While recovering, you’ll be monitored for about an hour until you are ready to go home. Later that day, you will be able to eat normally and resume some of your usual activities, unless otherwise directed. It is normal to experience some gas pains and to pass the air used during the colonoscopy. Try taking a walk to help relieve the bloated feeling.

Call your doctor

If you have abdominal pain, high fever or bleeding. Complications of colonoscopy are rare, but can include bleeding, perforation of the colon, spleen injury, anesthetic complications, and others.

Your Results

Your doctor will tell you the results of your colonoscopy either before you leave for home, or within a few days after the procedure. If your problem was treated during the exam, your doctor may give you special instructions to follow. If a biopsy was performed, allow a few days for the results. If necessary, further studies or treatments may be recommended.