Patient Information

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do I need a colonoscopy for colon cancer screening if I have no symptoms?

Colon cancer rarely shows symptoms until much later in the disease. It is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S., which is why screening has become so important.

How long will the procedure take?

The upper endoscopy procedure takes only about 15-30 minutes. The lower colonoscopy procedure takes about 30-45 minutes on average. Because of preparatory time before your endoscopy and a period of recovery, you and your escort should expect to spend 90-120 minutes at our facility.

I take antibiotics before dental procedures, will I need to take antibiotics before my procedure?

The American Heart Association has developed guidelines for identifying need for antibiotics before endoscopic procedures. These may differ from your dentists requirement for antibiotics before dental work. Discuss your need for pre-procedure antibiotics with your doctor if you have any concerns. They are administered primarily for patients who have artificial heart valves.

Is the procedure videotaped?

The images generated during your procedure are seen on a TV monitor. We do not have the capability to videotape procedures. Your physician may store some still images in your medical record for later reference.

Will I be put to sleep for the procedure?

Most patients undergoing endoscopy or colonoscopy will undergo monitored anesthesia care. This means that you will be given anesthesia through an IV by a licensed anesthesiologist. You will be asleep but will be breathing on your own. You will NOT be given a general anesthetic as when a patient has major surgery. Patients typically have no memory of their procedure when completed due to the medications’ effects.

What medication will I be given?

Medicines are given in the vein through an IV port placed in your hand or arm. Medication dosage and type may vary depending on your individual needs. Generally, you will given propofol as it has been showed to be very safe and effective for GI procedures. You may be given a narcotic or sedative at the anesthesiologist’s discretion.

Will I have pain during the procedure?

You would not feel any pain during the procedure when performed with monitored anesthesia care. There is usually no pain after the procedure either other than mild bloating in the first hour as gas passes out of the colon.

Why do I need a driver?

The medicines you are given have much the same effect on the brain function as alcohol. In addition, the effects of the medicine stay in the body for several hours and will affect judgment and reaction time long after the patient feels the medicine is gone.  In general, all the effects of your sedation will be gone by the morning after your procedure. You will have no restrictions at that time.

Will I know what the doctor found? If biopsies are done, how long does it take to get results?

Your doctor will talk to you after your procedure. He/she will tell you at that time what was seen. If biopsies are taken, or polyps removed, you will know the results in 1-2 weeks. Your doctor will review the results with you during your follow up visit.

Will I remember the doctor talking to me after the procedure?

After your procedure you may be alert, able to follow commands and ask questions, but you may not remember any events. Your doctor will talk with you after your exam. We encourage your escort to be with you at that time so they can hear the discussion in case you have any questions later. The day after your exam, one of our nurses will be calling to check how you are doing and can answer questions for you at that time or refer you to your physician if appropriate.

How long is the colon?

The colon is folded on itself like an accordion so it is difficult to state its length. In general, the colon is 4-5 feet long.

Is yellow fluid after a colon prep OK?

Some residual liquid in the colon is normal after preparation for colonoscopy. Since the body continues to produce bile even if you do not eat, this bile will color the liquid yellow. Small to moderate amounts of clear or cloudy yellow liquid eliminated from the rectum is normal the day of colonoscopy.

What is a polyp? What do polyps look like? Are all polyps cancerous?

Colon polyps are small growths that develop on the inside wall of the colon. These start very small (1-2 millimeters, the size of a small ant) and slowly grow larger. Many are shaped like a mushroom or a cauliflower. It takes years for the average polyp to reach 1 cm in size (the size of a pea). The larger the polyp, the higher the cancer risk.

Most polyps cause no symptoms. Most polyps can be removed at the time of your colonoscopy. You will generally feel no pain or sensation when polyps are removed. There is a very small risk of bleeding in the colon at the polyp removal site, which could require hospitalization or blood transfusion. Rarely polyp site bleeding will require surgery.

All polyps that are removed are sent to the pathology lab for evaluation. Two types of polyps can be found. Hyperplastic polyps have no risk of recurrence or malignancy (formation of cancer). Adenomatous polyps are pre-cancerous and do tend to recur elsewhere in the colon and therefore require a follow-up exam. Your doctor cannot visually distinguish hyperplastic from adenomatous polyps, so microscopic examination is required. Your doctor will contact you by phone or letter about results if a polyp has been removed. If you have not heard from your doctor in 4 weeks, please call the office for results.

How long will it take to get the air out?

Most people are able to pass all the air out of their GI tract within 1-2 hours after the procedure. Walking about or lying on the left side may help to eliminate the air.

When can I eat? What can I eat?

Unless instructed otherwise, you should wait 2 hours after your procedure to have a meal to be assured that all gas has passed out of the GI tract and you are alert enough to eat.  Unless instructed otherwise, you will have no dietary limitations after your procedure. You should drink no alcohol for 24 hours because of the sedation medicine you were given for your procedure.

Will my throat be sore after an EGD?

Your throat will feel numb for 1-2 hours. You may have mild soreness for the rest of the day, especially if you underwent dilatation. Severe throat pain or pain that persists for more then 48 hours should be reported to your doctor.

Why do I need a colonoscopy for colon cancer screening if I have no symptoms?

Colon cancer rarely shows symptoms until much later in the disease. It is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S., which is why screening has become so important.

What preparation is required?

The colon must be completely clean for the procedure to be accurate and complete.

How do I prepare for the colonoscopy?

Exact instructions will be given to you when you set up your appointment.

What about my current medications?

Alert the medical assistant of your current medications when setting up the appointment.

Can I have my coffee?

Yes, you can have black coffee with sugar the day before your procedure. No dairy, liquid or dry milk.

What are clear liquids?

Water, coffee, or tea, strained fruit juices with no pulp (apple juice, white grape juice), soft drinks, sports drinks (ginger ale, cola, Sprite, 7-Up, Gatorade). Chicken or beef bouillon/ broth low sodium, fat free. Lemon or lime Jello with no fruit or toppings. You can have hard candies. Nothing with red or purple coloring.

Why can’t I have red or purple coloring?

It can leave a residue in the bowel that resembles blood.

Why can’t I eat seeds before the colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy?

Seeds may remain in the bowel following the preparation for colonoscopy. During the procedure they may be suctioned into the endoscope and damage the instrument. Avoiding seeds for a week before the procedure will help prevent this problem.

How soon after the procedure will I return to full activity?

You can expect to return to full activities the next day. This would include driving.