WHAT IS A COLONOSCOPY?
This procedure is the most accurate way to identify abnormal tissue, ulcers and growths called polyps or adenomas that may become cancerous. While some patients have a colonoscopy to explore troubling symptoms such as rectal bleeding or changes in their bowel movements, this test is most often also used for cancer screening. The procedure allows the doctor to view the interior lining of the colon and remove colon polyps as part of the same procedure. Most polyps are benign. However, removal allows for testing to check the tissue for signs of cancer and also prevents the polyps from progressing to cancer.
What is preparation for colonoscopy like?
The colon needs to be clean and empty of contents to provide a clear view. A day before the procedure, patients should switch to a liquid diet including items such as fat-free broth and fruit juices with the pulp removed. Patients also need to drink an electrolyte balanced cleansing solution that contains a laxative, which is prescribed by our practise.
What is the procedure for colonoscopy like?
During this test, a narrow, flexible tube called a colonoscope is inserted into the rectum and passed through the colon up to the opening of the large intestine. The scope has a tiny light and camera that provides a clear view of the colon. The colon is gently inflated with carbon dioxide to expand the tissue for accurate assessment. As the scope is slowly withdrawn, the colon is inspected for signs of polyps, ulcers or other abnormalities. If necessary, other instruments can be inserted through the scope to remove polyps and stop any minor bleeding that may occur during biopsy. The test typically takes about half an hour.
Does the colonoscopy hurt?
Prior to the procedure, patients are given a sedative through an IV and therefore experience no pain. The patient lies on their left side for this procedure and the level of sedation can be adjusted throughout the test if needed. After the test is finished, patients rest for a while before being driven home by a friend or family.
What can you do?
Understand and acknowledge the procedure to prepare your body and mind. It is an invasive procedure that demands a period of watchfulness and recovery, particularly if it involves a biopsy or the removal of a polyp.
- Prepare the colon for the procedure by drinking the bowel preparation as prescribed.
- Get a good night’s rest before the procedure.
- Bring a family member or friend to support and drive you home and even stay with you for the next 12h.
- Take the day of the procedure off to rest and recover and avoid any strenuous activity and lifting.
- Low dose aspirin is considered safe after a colonoscopy.
- Drink plenty of liquid, including prune juice which can soften stools. Avoid alcohol for the first 24h.
- After a colonoscopy, sparingly eat and drink things that are gentle on your digestive system. Drink lots of fluid and fluid-based foods to help avoid dehydration as the preparations for colonoscopy are dehydrating.
- Foods and drinks to have the day after a colonoscopy include:
- Water, herbal teas, drinks with electrolytes, real fruit juice, vegetable juice
- saltine crackers, graham crackers, soup, applesauce, scrambled eggs, tender cooked vegetables
- softened peaches, yogurt, mashed or baked potato, smooth nut butter, soft white
- To aid healing, avoiding foods that are hard to digest the day after is beneficial. This includes anything which might irritate your bowels, such as spicy foods and those high in fibre. Heavy, greasy foods may also increase feelings of nausea after general anaesthesia.
- Foods and drinks to avoid the day after colonoscopy include:
- alcoholic beverages
- steak, or any type of tough, hard-to-digest meat, fried food
- whole grain bread, whole grain crackers, or crackers with seeds
- raw vegetables, corn, legumes, brown rice, fruit with the skin on
- dried fruit, such as raisins, coconut, spices, such as garlic, curry, red pepper, highly-seasoned foods
- crunchy nut butters, popcorn, nuts
- Air is introduced into the colon during the procedure, so that it can remain open. Because of this, you may expel more gas than you normally do. If so, you may wish to avoid carbonated beverages, which add more gas to your system.
- These dietary safeguards are typically required for one day only, but everyone is different. If your system can’t tolerate your usual diet immediately, continue to eat soft and liquid-based foods for a day or two.
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