Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is a colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is a test to visually examine your entire colon and rectum for abnormalities and to screen for colon cancer. During the exam, a colonoscope, a long flexible tube about the thickness of an adult finger, is inserted into your rectum. A tiny video at the tip of the colonoscope allows the doctor to see inside your colon.

2. Is there any preparation for colonoscopy?
For the colonoscopy to be accurate, your colon must be clear of stool and fluids. This means that you can not eat the day before your colonoscopy and can only drink clear liquids. You will also be given a laxative to take the day before the exam, usually in either the late morning or early afternoon. Between 30 minutes to three hours after starting the laxative, you will have diarrhea. After taking all of the prescribed laxative, your colon should be clear of both solid and liquid stool.

3. Is a colonoscopy painful?
You will be given a sedative medication that will make you sleepy enough so that you should not feel any discomfort during the examination.

4. What if the doctor finds something during the exam? 
If a polyp or abnormal tissue is found, your doctor may choose to remove it and destroy it. She may also take a sample or advise surgical removal, depending on the size of the mass.

5. Can I go to work on the day of the exam?
Although you will be awake and alert, you should not work or drive after your colonoscopy because the sedatives used during the procedure can last for up to 24 hours.

6. Can I drive myself to and from the place where the colonoscopy is done?
No, you will need a ride from a person you trust. Taking the bus or a taxi by yourself is also not allowed because of the sedative's effects.

The statements on this site contain general information that should not be construed as medical advice.