Bhupinder Anand, MD
In this Article
What if there are abnormalities detected during colonoscopy?
If an abnormal area needs to be better evaluated, a biopsy forceps can be passed through a channel in the colonoscope and a biopsy (a sample of the tissue) can be obtained. The biopsy is submitted to the pathology laboratory for examination under a microscope by a pathologist. If infection is suspected, a biopsy may be obtained for culturing of bacteria (and occasionally viruses or fungus) or examination under the microscope for parasites. If colonoscopy is performed because of bleeding, the site of bleeding can be identified, samples of tissue obtained (if necessary), and the bleeding controlled by several means. Should there be polyps, (benign growths that can become cancerous) they almost always can be removed through the colonoscope. Removal of these polyps is an important method of preventing colorectal cancer, although the great majority of polyps are benign and do not become cancerous. None of these additional procedures typically produce pain. Biopsies are taken for many reasons and do not necessarily mean that cancer is suspected.
What should I expect post colonoscopy?
Patients will be kept in an observation area for an hour or two post-colonoscopy until the effects of medications that have been given adequately wear off. If patients have been given sedatives before or during colonoscopy, they may not drive, even if they feel alert. Someone else must drive them home. The patient's reflexes and judgment may be impaired for the rest of the day, making it unsafe to drive, operate machinery, or make important decisions. Should patients have some cramping or bloating, this can be relieved quickly with the passage of gas, and they should be able to eat upon returning home. After the removal of polyps or certain other manipulations, the diet or activities of patients may be restricted for a brief period of time.
Prior to the patient's departure from the coloscopic unit, the findings can be discussed with the patient. However, at times, a definitive diagnosis may have to wait for a microscopic analysis of biopsy specimens, which usually takes a few days.