2A colonoscopy is a procedure in which your gastroenterologist is able to visualize the lining of your colon, also referred to as your large intestine, and possibly the last part of your small bowel called the terminal ileum. A baseline colonoscopy is recommended for everyone once they turn 50 years old in order to screen for colon polyps/colon cancer. Additional indications for having this test done can include but are not limited to the following: rectal bleeding, blood detected on hemoccult test, history of colon polyps, family history of colon cancer or colon polyps, anemia (low blood count) and a change in bowel habits.

What to Expect During the Procedure

The inside of the colon is visualized with an instrument called a colonoscope. A colonoscope is a thin, smooth, flexible, lighted tube that is equipped with a tiny video camera. The colonoscope is inserted into your rectum and advanced into the colon; the video shows up on a screen so the doctor may examine the lining of the colon. The doctor will guide the colonoscope through your rectum and your entire colon to an area where the small intestine meets the colon called the cecum. Other instruments can be passed through a channel in the colonoscope to take biopsies or remove polyps. During the exam, you will be administered sedatives to help you tolerate the procedure, however, you are always breathing on your own.

What to Expect After the Procedure

After the procedure is completed, you will be taken to the recovery area. In recovery, you will slowly begin to recover from the sedatives. The doctor will come to your bedside to discuss the test findings. Within 30 minutes, you should be alert enough to drink fluids and start thinking about going home. Though you may feel completely alert, you will be told that you may not drive or make any important decisions for the following 12 hours.

There are risks and side effects to every procedure. Complications are rare, but can include a temporary feeling of bloating, bleeding after a biopsy or removal of a polyp, perforation or reaction to a sedative. You will be given written discharge instructions explaining your recovery and the doctor's phone number you may call if you have any questions.

Procedure options and instructions for each can be found under the "PREP" drop down menu.