Preparing For A Colonoscopy

A colonoscopy is a painless procedure that is done under anesthesia, yet many individuals hesitate to have it performed because of its invasive nature and unpleasant preparation procedures. Yearly colonoscopies are recommended when an individual reaches age fifty, but they may be performed on younger patients with symptoms or strong family histories of colon cancer.

Basically, a cable with a camera attached is inserted into the rectum and travels through the colon, looking for signs of early and advanced stage cancer, or precancerous polyps, which are small growths along the surface of the colon.

This procedure is important, because it is the most reliable tool for the detection of colon cancer, which is slow growing and exhibits few symptoms until it is at an advanced stage, at which point it is difficult to treat and often fatal.

The first stage of preparation: the consultation

During the consultation, the procedure will be explained and questions will be addressed. You will need to provide the name of the person that will drive you home from the facility after the colonoscopy is performed. The procedure will not be allowed if your designated driver is not present at the time of the colonoscopy, because of the after-affects of anesthesia.

The second stage: cleansing your colon

This stage is the only physically unpleasant part of the colonoscopy. You will need to purchase, or be provided with, stool softener tablets and a two week supply of powdered laxative, which you will take in the course of a few hours.

The cleansing begins approximately twenty four hours before the procedure. You will be provided of a list of fluids that may be consumed, but nothing may be eaten until the procedure is completed.

You will begin with stool softener tablets, and in a few hours start to consume the entire two week supply of powdered laxative, mixed with a gallon of sports drink or a sugar-free equivalent.

You must consume all of the laxative and as much additional fluids as possible. This is necessary to avoid dehydration, because frequent diarrhea will soon occur. It may be virtually uncontrollable, so warn all family members to keep one bathroom free at all times.

The last stage: the colonoscopy

At the facility, you will meet the anesthesiologist and the specialist who will perform the procedure. After a few questions and a quick blood pressure check, an IV will be inserted and you will be wheeled into the scanning area and placed under sedation.

When you awaken, the doctor will inform you about the results. It is not unusual for a few polyps to be found and removed during the procedure. If anything that looks questionable is found, you may need to return for a subsequent visit.

After a few minutes to assure that you are able to walk safely, you will be allowed to leave the facility with your designated driver.

Don't let shyness or fear rob you of this potentially life-saving procedure. If you won't do it for yourself, do it for your family. For more information, contact a professional like Northwest Gastroenterology Associates.