For patients undergoing their first colonoscopy, the day of the procedure can bring a mixture of apprehension and relief. The relief comes from the knowledge that soon there will be no need to ingest large amounts of prep liquid, and the daily special on the home menu will no longer be beef bouillon or lime Jell-O. The apprehension is a natural part of any medical procedure.
The good news is that most patients find that the exploratory surgery is much quicker and easier than they had imagined. Below, the experienced Atlanta-area doctors of Piedmont Colorectal Associates discuss what to expect on the day of your colonoscopy.
The day of your procedure starts with the final doses of prep liquid. You will finish this laxative about four to five hours before you leave for the hospital. Two hours before your appointment, you must stop drinking liquids of any kind. Of course, food is also out of the question.
Remember that you will need someone to drive you home after the colonoscopy. Ideally, this same person can drive you to the hospital and wait for you until you are ready to leave. Although the anesthetic you will be given typically wears off quickly, your reflexes and judgment might still be slightly impaired for the next 24 hours or so. Because of this, hospitals will not allow you to drive yourself home, take a bus or even call a taxi.
At the Hospital
When you arrive at the hospital, the first step is to check in at the admissions desk. You will be taken to the surgical suite, where you will change into a gown and receive an IV tube. This tube will later be used to administer your anesthesia. When your surgeon is ready, your bed will be wheeled into the operating room.
Although the colonoscopy itself will take less than a half hour, the time will be completely irrelevant to you: Once the anesthesia is administered through the IV, the next thing you will remember is being back in the surgical suite. There, you will rest for at least a half hour, or longer if you have any discomfort.
You will receive a summary of the findings, along with an explanation of any subsequent steps that may be necessary. For example, if a biopsy was taken, your doctor will indicate when the laboratory results will be available and when you should visit the office for a follow-up appointment.
Once you are cleared by your doctor, you can return home with the assistance of your friend or family member. The whole time in the hospital, from start to finish, will normally be less than three hours.
For more information on colonoscopy, schedule a personal consultation at our Atlanta or Stockbridge office by contacting Piedmont Colorectal Associates today.