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Preparing for a colonoscopy

A colonoscopy uses a long flexible camera tube to examine the lining of the bowel wall, from the lowest part, the rectum, all the way up through the colon to the lower end of the small intestine.

During the procedure, a tissue sample or biopsy, may also be taken.

Instructions will be given for preparing for the procedure, which involves the colonoscope tube being inserted through the rectum.

Hospitals usually perform a colonoscopy as a day case procedure so the person has the test and goes home on the same day.

How do I prepare for a colonoscopy?

Before a colonoscopy, let your doctor know about any special medical conditions you have, including:

  • Pregnancy.
  • Lung conditions.
  • Heart conditions.
  • Allergies to any medications.
  • If you have diabetes or take medications that may affect blood clotting. Adjustments to these medications may be required before the colonoscopy.

Never stop taking any medication without first consulting your doctor.

You may need to take antibiotics before the colonoscopy if you:

  • Have an artificial heart valve.
  • Have ever been told you need to take antibiotics before a dental or surgical procedure.

There may be some diet or fluid restrictions before your colonoscopy, but this will vary according to your doctor's instructions. You may be asked to limit or eliminate solid foods for a few days before the test. You will also be asked to take laxatives by mouth to clean out the colon.

Along with the dietary changes, your bowel must be further cleansed in order for colonoscopy to be successful. You will usually receive 1 or 2 enemas before the procedure. Try to hold the enema solution for at least 5 minutes before releasing it.

You will probably be given pain medication and a mild sedative to keep you comfortable and to help you relax during the examination.

You will need to remain at the hospital or medical centre for one to two hours until the sedative wears off.

Make sure you arrange for someone to drive you home after a colonoscopy. Because you receive sedating medication during the procedure, it is unsafe for you to drive or operate machinery for about eight hours after the procedure.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on September 08, 2014

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