Colonoscopy procedures explained

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Your doctor has recommended that you have a colonoscopy.

If you shudder at that thought, it may be the preparation that's causing you fright. Not only is the preparation an inconvenience, but getting ready for the procedure takes longer on average than the time you will be at the medical center for your procedure.

However, emptying the contents of the colon is the first requirement for a successful colonoscopy, thus enabling the physician to have a clear view of the intestinal walls.

If the bowel preparation is incomplete, polyps or lesions can be missed; the procedure can take longer and increase the risk of potential complications; or the whole process may need to be repeated or rescheduled.

Your doctor will give you printed instructions regarding your preparation and procedure. Be sure to read the instructions carefully.

The day of your procedure, you will check in at the hospital at a time designated by your physician. The admission clerk will verify your name, date of birth and insurance coverage.

A registered nurse will review your medical history, your current medication list, allergies and start an IV. It is through the IV that medications will be administered to help relieve any discomfort that may be associated with the procedure, while allowing you to maintain normal breathing.

The procedure takes about 30 minutes to perform. Most people will not remember the actual procedure.

Finding and removing polyps or other areas of abnormal cell growth may be one of the most effective ways to prevent colorectal cancer development.

When your colonoscopy is completed, you will be monitored in the outpatient area until you have met criteria for discharge, usually 30 to 60 minutes.

You will not be allowed to go home without a designated driver because the medications used during the procedure can alter your cognition for up to 24 hours.

You will receive a printed note from the doctor explaining any findings and instructions for follow up care.

Colon cancer is preventable and treatable with early detection. Take control of your health and reduce you colorectal cancer risk. If you are over 50 or have a family history of colon cancer schedule your screening colonoscopy today.

Candace Maroldo, a registered nurse and certified gastroenterology registered nurse, is the GI service coordinator at Providence St Mary Medical Center.

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