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What is colonoscopy?

Colonoscopy is a procedure that enables an examiner (usually a gastroenterologist) to evaluate the inside of the colon (large intestine or large bowel). The colonoscope is a four foot long, flexible tube about the thickness of a finger with a camera and a source of light at its tip. The tip of the colonoscope is inserted into the anus and then is advanced slowly, under visual control, into the rectum and through the colon usually as far as the cecum, which is the first part of the colon.

Return to Colonoscopy

See what others are saying

Comment from: Shannon, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: August 16

I had to eat junk food only for 3 days (i.e., no fiber/no vegetables/no fruits, etc.), then clear liquids the day before the colonoscopy procedure. The preparation was 2 Dulcolax, 10 oz. of magnesium citrate, 32 oz. of Miralax/Gatorade, 2 Dulcolax and then 32 oz. of Miralax/Gatorade again. The only problem I had was, the Miralax/Gatorade made me throw up. After drinking my first 8 oz. of it I immediately threw it up (it tasted like regular Gatorade but my stomach didn't like it). I had to drink it very slowly to get the rest of the 32 oz. down and for it to stay down. I couldn't drink anymore after that. My prep ended up being graded as fair. Diarrhea was no problem. I probably shouldn't have sat on the toilet for 6 hours but I did anyway because I was scared to death after reading so many other stories. My body always let me know when I needed to go and the bowel movements weren't excessive at all. Best advice I got was to buy diaper rash cream and preparation H medicated wipes. Apply diaper rash cream after every movement and always use wipes (no toilet paper). I was never sore at all! Another bit of advice that I followed and that probably helped was to stop eating meat 5 days before the procedure. It helps limit the amount of diarrhea. The procedure itself was simple and painless, I had propofol and was knocked out. I woke up, passed air one time (because they pump your intestines up with air), and no diarrhea or anything else after that. The doctor found 1 small polyp and removed it. I am happy I went, worth it. I will ask for something different than the Miralax for next time.

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Comment from: Momof2, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: August 11

I wanted to weigh in here as I had my first colonoscopy yesterday. I lost a cousin to colon cancer at 36, leaving behind 2 toddlers and seeing that, well, I decided to go at 51 years of age. Compared to childbirth this is a walk in the park. I thought I did something wrong because I kept waiting for some violent explosion or something but having the norovirus was 50 times worse than this colon preparation. Diarrhea yes, but not out of the ordinary. I read all the tips. I think the reason it was so easy was a few days before I changed my diet. It was scheduled for Wednesday 6:30 am. From Saturday before I kept my food light and stayed away from whole grains and nuts/fiber. I started my prep at 4:30 pm. Set up in the bathroom with laptop, radio, applied diaper rash cream, baby wipes. An hour later I had a movement. But it was no big deal. I drank the lemon-lime prep in big gulps with straw toward back of throat. I sucked on a lime in between. It was done in no time. Salty lemonade was the taste but not enough to make me vomit or anything. I wasn't rushing into the bathroom either. I wore Depends just for peace of mind. I drank the rest of prep at 10:30 pm. I was done at 11:30 pm. I got to the hospital, twilight sedation, and don't remember a thing. They removed 3 polyps so awaiting pathology. Definitely glad I had a driver, was a little groggier than I thought I would be. Hubby took me to breakfast, got home and took a nice nap. Don't be scared of this. People need to read the directions and prep correctly. Also I did learn that I could have asked for the prep where you only drink like two 12 oz bottles of a different prep and then substitute your own drinks in between.

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Comment from: Zena22, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: July 27

I had a positive experience with my first colonoscopy. I would like to share how I prepared for my first colonoscopy. I was prescribed GaviLyte�N. The concoction comes in a powder-form, I mixed with water as directed and then cooled it. I then mixed up a concentrated solution of a half package of Crystal Light powder, to one cup of spring water. After eating a small meal, 36 hours prior to the procedure, I took 2 tablets of Dulcolax before bedtime. At this time I started with clear liquids only. I was hungry, but I feel having only a liquid diet for 36 hours helped make my outcome easier. The day of the preparation, I took 2 more tablets of Dulcolax, as directed, 4 hours before I started to drink the prep solution, and continued with only clear liquids. I would take a small amount of the concentrated Crystal Light in my mouth and swish it around for a few seconds before swallowing it. Then I would drink the glass of the prep solution. I followed this routine until I had pale yellow bowel movements, which took approximately 5, 16 oz. glasses of the preparation. I then took one more 16 oz. glass, just to make sure my bowel movements were clear. I drank a total of 96 oz. of the solution. During the prep time, I had plain chicken broth, drank Seagram's ginger ale and had some orange and watermelon Jell-O. I had 2 lemon popsicles and ginger ale after the prep was complete. I went to the bathroom for bowel movements about 15 times. I also got up several times that night to go to the bathroom. You will go to the bathroom until all the preparation is out of your intestines. Then the urge to go is gone. I did not have any of the negative effects, I never felt nauseous, did not gag, vomit or feel any extreme bloating or pain. I did have some body chills throughout the day. I had taken a shower, put on a heavy fleece nightgown, socks and slippers and was comfortable. The gastroenterologist said my prep was excellent. My procedure went well. One small 5 mm polyp was discovered, which was removed. I felt a bit groggy afterwards and went home to rest. I could not have driven a car even if I had wanted to. It is important to make sure you have a ride. These are just suggestions and my personal experience to help make this procedure tolerable. I hope you have a successful preparation and colonoscopy procedure.

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