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Colonoscopy FAQs

How will I feel during the procedure?
What medications do you use during the procedure?
How long does the procedure typically take?
What about the medications that I am already taking? Can I take my normal medications before the procedure?
Will I be able to resume my normal medications after the procedure? 
How do I prepare to clean my colon and keep it clean?
What should I do after the procedure?
Do I need someone to drive me home after the procedure?
Who can I contact if I need to reschedule or cancel the appointment?


How will I feel during the procedure?
Patients are sedated with a moderate sedative and be given pain medicating which results in having most patients sleep through the procedure. Even if you do not sleep during the procedure, you will still feel comfortable. The doctor and nurse will be there to monitor your vital signs, look for any signs of discomfort and make any adjustments needed to make sure you feel comfortable.


What medications do you use during the procedure? 
There are two different types of medications that are used. One type is pain medication and the second type is sleep medication. The pain medication can be Fentanyl, Demorol, or Morphine Sulfate, while the sleeping medication can be Versed or Valium. About 90% of patients sleep through the procedure when given these medications. When patients wake up after the procedure they commented that they do not remember undergoing the process of the procedure.


How long does the procedure typically take? 
Typically, a colonoscopy takes about 25-45 minutes. However, it may take longer if a biopsy or polypectomy is involved. One can expect to stay at the surgical facility around 2-3 hours for the entire process. One should arrive at the hospital 50-60 minutes before the scheduled time to make time for registration, check in, pre-procedure evaluation, and IV placement. After the procedure, one is directed to the recovery room for about 30-60 minutes.


What about the medications that I am already taking? Can I take my normal medications before the procedure? 
You can continue all your medications except for blood thinners and iron supplements. If you are taking diabetic medications, our insulin and/or oral medications need to be adjusted due to the diet changes. In general, the dosage should decrease to half. You should consult your doctor for a detailed adjustment. You may check your blood sugar level if you have a glucose meter available.


If you are taking blood thinners such as Coumadin, Aspirin, Plavix, Heparin, or other NASIDs (such as Motrin, Advil, Ibuprofen, Naproxan, Celebrex, Vioxx, etc.) please stop 5-7 days before the procedure. The blood thinners will increase the risk of bleeding and difficulty to control the bleeding during the biopsy or polypectomy.

If you do take Coumadin, please contact you primary care physician or coagulation clinic to check the PT (prothrombin time) before the procedure to make sure the blood is not too thin.


Will I be able to resume my normal medications after the procedure? 

You can continue all of your medications after the procedure. If you had a biopsy or polypectomy, you may need to stop blood thinners for several days. The bleeding after the biopsy or polypectomy can occur 2-3 weeks after the procedure.

Generally, it is recommended to stop blood thinners 7 days after a biopsy, and 14 days after a polypectomy. You may expect a small amount of rectal bleeding after the procedure, but not a large amount. If you do have significant rectal bleeding (more than half a cup), then please contact me or another physician as soon as possible.


How do I prepare to clean my colon and keep it clean? 
You must follow a clear liquid diet 24 hours beforehand. This includes: 

  • fat free bouillon or broth
  • strained fruit juice (apple, grapes, and white cranberry juices)
  • water
  • plain coffee
  • plain tea
  • diet soda
  • gelatin or popsicles.

Mild laxatives may also be taken. These may include: 

  • Dulcolax
  • Hlf lytely or Golytely

You can expect to continue to drink clear liquid fluids until 3 hours before the procedure.


How can I tell if my colon is clean enough for the colonoscopy? 
The consistency of your stool will let you know whether your colon is clean or not. First it will come out as soft, followed by dark colored fluids, and then light colored fluids. When the stool becomes a light brown color liquid (similar to urine) then you know your colon is perfectly clean for colonoscopy.


What should I do after the procedure? 
You should take it easy after. Due to the effects of the medications, it is important that you should not drive, sign legal documents, or participate in any heavy exercises. After the procedure, there may be residual air in your colon, we advice you to have a light meal after the procedure. A heavy meal may upset your intestines. You can return to your normal activities the next day.


Do I need someone to drive me home after the procedure? 
Yes! You need to arrange for someone to take you home afterwards since you will not be allowed to drive due to the sedatives. You will be able to drive and resume normal activities the next day.


Who can I contact if I need to reschedule or cancel the appointment? 
It will take much effort for arranging your colonoscopy examination. Therefore, please consider carefully before committing to the procedure appointment. If you need to cancel or reschedule your appointment then please call my office at (949) 679-0000.


For More Information...
One can check out the 
National Institute of Health website for more information.