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Your questions are important to us. Here are answers common questions we receive about having a colonoscopy:
You’ll be given written instructions for the colon prep (colonoscopy prep planner) that will include diet and laxative information. Please review this prep planner in advance. It’s normal to experience mild to moderate abdominal cramping for about one to two hours after the preparation. Rest, relaxation, acetaminophen (Tylenol®) and using a heating pad or hot water bottle will help reduce this discomfort. Your colon must be completely clean so that your doctor can evaluate the entire colon and not miss something important. Please follow the prep planner instructions closely and call if you have any questions. If you fail to follow these instructions, your colon might not be clean enough to complete the procedure. If this happens, you’ll be asked to reschedule the appointment.
You must arrange for someone to drive you home after your procedure; otherwise, the procedure will be canceled.
Please contact your regular doctor if you're on a blood thinner medication or if you have diabetes and need to give yourself insulin. Do not take any diabetes medications on the day of your procedure. You may take all your other regular medications with a small amount of water. Please bring a detailed list of your regular medications with you on the day of your exam.
You’ll have a chance to meet with the doctor in the procedure room. He/she will discuss your concerns and explain the risks and benefits of the procedure. The doctor will then administer sedation medication through your IV. This medication will relax you and allow you to rest during the exam. Most people get sleepy, drowsy, relaxed and forgetful, but you won’t become unconscious. It’s not unusual to experience mild, brief discomfort in the form of cramps or gas-type pains. If you’re uncomfortable during the procedure, you can be given more medication if it is safe to do so. The nurse will constantly monitor you and give you medication as you need it. The procedure takes about 20 to 40 minutes.
You’ll spend at least 30 minutes in the recovery room and be allowed to rest and let any remaining air in the colon to pass out of the rectum. Nurses will monitor you while you’re in recovery. You may be offered something to drink after you wake up. When you’re awake enough to go home, you’ll be able to get dressed and leave. Even though you feel awake and alert after you leave the clinic, your judgment and reflexes will be impaired for the rest of the day. Therefore, you must have someone to drive or take you home and it’s recommended that someone stay with you for the next several hours. You should be able to eat your normal diet when you return home. You’ll be able to return to normal activities the next day, unless your doctor gives other instructions.
If your doctor sees any polyps or thinks that an area needs further evaluation, he/she will pass an instrument through the colonoscope to remove the polyp or take a biopsy (a small sample of the colon lining). This tissue will be sent to the lab to be analyzed. Removing a polyp or taking a small biopsy will not cause pain or discomfort. You’ll be notified of lab results in about 10 days.
Not necessarily. Your doctor will provide his/her findings and special instructions on the post-procedure instruction sheet, and a nurse will go over all the findings and instructions with you. You’ll also be provided with contact numbers in case you have additional questions.
Colonoscopy is generally a safe procedure. Studies have shown that the complication rate is less than 1 in 1,000. One possible complication is a perforation, or tear, through the bowel wall that could require surgery. Bleeding might occur at the site of biopsy or polypectomy, but it's usually minor. Bleeding can stop on its own or be controlled through the colonoscope; it rarely requires follow-up treatment. Some people may have a reaction to sedative or complication from heart or lung disease. Colonoscopy is about 90-95 percent accurate because of "blind areas" in the colon. It’s important to not ignore new symptoms in the future. You may need another colonoscopy at that time.
IBD is an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s own immune system attacks cells within the bowel.
IBD is thought to be a genetic disorder and is hereditary. It can also be triggered by environmental factors, medication use and lifestyle choices.
No, there is no cure at the present time for IBD. Treatment consists of finding appropriate medications, based on your symptoms, to control inflammatory episodes and improve quality of life.
Your gastroenterologist may order several tests and procedures, including blood tests, a stool sample and imaging studies such as CT scans. You may also undergo one or more endoscopy procedures, such as a colonoscopy to view the colon and rectum and/or a small bowel enteroscopy, which provides a view of the esophagus, stomach and part of the small intestine. If needed, your doctor may take a tissue sample for biopsy using an endoscopic procedure.
Medications are the mainstay of treatment for people with chronic ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. Prescription anti-inflammatory medications, immune system modulators and medications coming onto the market available within clinical trials are all being used to treat people with IBD. Because IBD affects the immune system, the goals of treatment are to suppress inflammatory episodes and improve quality of life.
Yes. IBD requires adopting healthy lifestyle choices along with lifelong medical management and regular clinic visits.
Not all people with IBD have the same symptoms. Crohn's disease, for example, can affect any or all areas of the digestive tract, from the mouth to the anus. Based on the type of IBD you have, as well as its location and intensity, your doctor may try several different medications in an effort to find the appropriate therapy that is right for you.
American College of Gastroenterology
American Gastroenterological Association
American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy
IBD Stoplight Tool: Virginia Mason Franciscan Health IBD Symptom Checker
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