Do you find our website to be helpful?
Yes   No
Skip to main content

What Happens During a Colonoscopy?

What Happens During a Colonoscopy?

Reaching the milestone of 45 comes with a long list of adulting duties — the most dreaded one, arguably, is the colonoscopy exam. 

But what exactly does a colonoscopy entail, and why is it so crucial to your health, particularly as you age?

Metropolitan Gastroenterology Consultants’ Dr. Darrien Gaston, one of Chicago’s most experienced specialists, explains the colonoscopy process from start to finish. 

The “what” and “whys” of colonoscopy

A colonoscopy is a diagnostic tool that allows a gastroenterologist to examine the inside of the large intestine or colon. It helps us detect and prevent a range of conditions, including colorectal cancer, often years before symptoms appear.

If you’ve been dodging the appointment due to misconceptions or fears, it’s time to confront your concerns — knowledge is power, as they say. 

A step-by-step guide through the colonoscopy

Your colonoscopy begins with preparation. 

1. Scheduling and consultation

Dr. Gaston guides you on when to schedule the colonoscopy based on several factors, including your personal and family medical history. Adults at average risk should get their first colorectal screening (colonoscopy) at age 45. 

2. Prep instructions

We give you detailed instructions on preparing for your colonoscopy, including dietary restrictions and a bowel-cleansing regimen. This phase is vital for the success of the actual examination, so be sure to commit to the prescribed steps.

3. Support system

Arrange for someone to drive you home after the procedure. You will be under the influence of anesthesia and not fit to drive. 

The day of the colonoscopy

On the day of the procedure, you should arrive at Metropolitan Gastroenterology Consultants at your appointment time, usually in the morning. Here’s what happens next.

1. Check-in

After arriving, you check in and complete any necessary paperwork. Be prepared to provide a current list of medications and any updates to your health since your consultation.

2. Prep and anesthesia

We start by administering a sedative or pain medication to keep you comfortable. It’s essential to follow all pre-op instructions carefully, including fasting from the night before and abstaining from certain medications unless Dr. Gaston directs you otherwise.

3. During the colonoscopy

The actual colonoscopy takes approximately 45 minutes to complete. We position you on your side, and Dr. Gaston inserts a long, flexible tube (colonoscope) into your rectum and moves it around to examine the lining of your colon.

 Post-colonoscopy recovery

The post-colonoscopy phase is relatively straightforward.

1. Recovery area

After the procedure, we monitor you for a little while to ensure you feel okay.

2. Discharge and aftercare

When you’re ready, we brief you on the results of your colonoscopy and provide any follow-up instructions. Your regular doctor will also receive a detailed report.

3. Resuming normal activities

Most patients can resume normal activities the day after their colonoscopy. However, following Dr. Gaston’s post-procedure guidelines and drinking plenty of liquids to prevent dehydration is important.

Overcoming colonoscopy anxieties

The idea of a colonoscopy can be scary, but our expert tips can help you face the day calmly.

1. Ease into the preparation process

The colonoscopy prep can be uncomfortable. To make it more manageable, choose a flavored prep solution, clear, non-red liquids, and use a straw to bypass most of your taste buds.

2. Relax about the procedure

We keep you comfortable during the exam, but the anticipation can trigger anxiety. Distract yourself with music, conversation, or meditation leading to the procedure.

3. Don’t worry about the “what ifs”

Rather than dwelling on potential negative outcomes, try to focus on the positive aspects. Identifying issues early is beneficial as it allows quicker intervention and treatment.

Why you shouldn’t skip regular screenings

It’s tempting to postpone or skip regular colonoscopies, but they’re crucial for your health. Here’s when and why you should keep them on your calendar. 

1. Frequency

The American Cancer Society recommends regular screenings starting at age 45 for individuals with an average risk of colorectal cancer. Dr. Gaston determines the frequency of your future screenings based on the results of your colonoscopy.

2. Why regularity matters

Cancers are more treatable the earlier we find them. Regular screenings can detect precancerous polyps before they turn into cancer and catch cancer in its early stages when it’s most responsive to treatment.

Call Metropolitan Gastroenterology Consultants in Chicago, Illinois, to schedule your colonoscopy and stay a step ahead of colorectal cancer. 

You Might Also Enjoy...

 6 Foods to Avoid with Ulcerative Colitis

6 Foods to Avoid with Ulcerative Colitis

Set down your coffee cup and step away from those fries. Once you know how food and drink affect your ulcerative colitis symptoms, you can regain control of your life.
How to Soothe Hemorrhoids at Home

How to Soothe Hemorrhoids at Home

They itch, burn, bleed, and make it impossible to sit comfortably. You can’t ignore hemorrhoids, but you can relieve the misery with a few at-home tricks.

Can Crohn's Disease Run in Families?

You’ve seen a family member struggle with Crohn’s disease, and you’re wondering if you’re doomed to the same fate. Here’s what you need to know about the genetic connection.