If anything abnormal is seen in your colon, like a polyp or inflamed tissue, the physician can remove all or part of it using tiny instruments passed through the scope. That tissue (biopsy) is then sent to a lab for testing. If there is bleeding in the colon, the physician can pass a laser, heater probe, or electrical probe, or inject special medicines through the scope and use it to stop the bleeding.
Bleeding and puncture of the colon are possible complications of colonoscopy. However, such complications are uncommon.
Colonoscopy takes 30 to 60 minutes. The sedative and pain medicine should keep you from feeling much discomfort during the exam. You will need to remain at the endoscopy facility for 1 to 2 hours until the sedative wears off.
Your colon must be completely empty for the colonoscopy to be thorough and safe. To prepare for the procedure you may have to follow a liquid diet for 1 to 3 days beforehand. A liquid diet means fat-free bouillon or broth, strained fruit juice, water, plain coffee, plain tea, or diet soda. Gelatin or popsicles in any color but red may also be eaten. You will also take one of several types of laxatives the night before the procedure. Also, you must arrange for someone to take you home afterward--you will not be allowed to drive because of the sedatives. Your physician may give you other special instructions. Inform your physician of any medical conditions or medications that you take before the colonscopy.
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