What is a Colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is a procedure used to see inside the colon and rectum. Colonoscopy can detect inflamed tissue, ulcers, and abnormal growths. The procedure is used to look for early signs of colorectal cancer and can help doctors diagnose unexplained changes in bowel habits, abdominal pain, bleeding from the anus, and weight loss.
How to Prepare for a Colonoscopy
Your doctor will provide written instructions about how to prepare for a colonoscopy. The process is called bowel prep. Generally, all solids must be emptied from the gastrointestinal tract by following a clear liquid diet for 1 to 3 days before the procedure. Patients should not drink beverages containing red or purple dye.
Acceptable liquids include:
- fat-free bouillon or broth
- strained fruit juice
- plain coffee
- plain tea
- sports drinks, such as gatorade
A laxative may be required the night before a colonoscopy. A laxative is medicine that loosens stool and increases bowel movements. Laxatives are usually swallowed in pill form or as a powder dissolved in water. Patients should inform your doctor of all medical conditions and any medications, vitamins, or supplements taken regularly, including:
- arthritis medications
- blood thinners
- diabetes medications
- vitamins that contain iron
Driving is not permitted for 24 hours after a colonoscopy to allow the sedative time to wear off. Before the appointment, patients should make plans for a ride.