You can take most prescription and non-prescription medicines right up to the day of the colonoscopy. Dr Yoganathan should tell you what medicines to stop. You should also tell the doctor if you are allergic to any medicines.
Some medicines increase the risk of heavy bleeding if you have a polyp removed during the colonoscopy. Ask your doctor how and when to stop these medicines, including warfarin / Coumadin, Clopidogrel / Plavix, or any other anticoagulant medicine. Do not stop these medications without first talking with your doctor.
Most patients are given a sedative (a medicine to help you relax) during the colonoscopy, so you will need someone to take you home after your test. Although you will be awake by the time you go home, the sedative / anaesthetic medicines cause changes in reflexes and judgment that can interfere with your ability to make decisions, similar to the effect of alcohol. You will not be able to drive home or go back to work after the examination if you received sedation for the procedure. You should be able to return to work the next day.
Before the test, a doctor will review the procedure with you, including possible complications, and will ask you to sign a consent form. An IV line will be inserted in your hand or arm. Your blood pressure and heart rate will be monitored during the test.
You will be given fluid and medicines through the IV line. With sedation/analgesia provided by the anaesthetist many people sleep during the test, while others are very relaxed, comfortable, and generally not aware. Dr Yoganathan will request an anaesthesiologist give you an anaesthetic agent (Propofol), which is a stronger sedative and will put you to sleep while you are being closely monitored.
The colonoscope is a flexible tube with a fibre optic camera, approximately the diameter of the index finger. The scope gently pumps carbon dioxide into the colon to inflate it and allow the doctor to see the entire lining.
You might feel bloating or gas cramps as the carbon dioxide opens the colon. Try not to be embarrassed about passing this gas post procedure and let me know if you are uncomfortable.
During the procedure, I might take a biopsy (small pieces of tissue) or remove polyps. Polyps are growths of tissue that can range in size from the tip of a pen to several inches. Most polyps are benign (not cancerous). However, some polyps can become cancerous if allowed to grow for a long time. Having a polyp removed does not hurt.
After the colonoscopy, you will be observed in a recovery area until the effects of the sedative medication wear off. The most common complaint after colonoscopy is a feeling of bloating and gas cramps. You may also feel groggy from the sedation medications. You should not return to work or drive that day. Most people are able to eat normally after the test. Ask your doctor when it is safe to restart your blood-thinning medications.
Colonoscopy is a safe procedure, and complications are rare but can occur:
You should call your doctor immediately if you have any of the following:
Although many people worry about being uncomfortable during a colonoscopy, most people tolerate it very well and feel fine afterward. It is normal to feel tired afterward. Plan to take it easy and relax the rest of the day. Dr Yoganathan can describe the results of the colonoscopy as soon as it is over.
Your healthcare provider is the best source of information for questions and concerns related to your medical problem.