The human colon (large intestine) is an integral part of the digestive tract. It’s also subject to the development of polyps that can become colon cancer. Despite how serious – and deadly – colon cancer can be, it’s also one of the most preventable types of cancer. A colonoscopy is the gold standard used to detect and remove early signs of colon cancer.
Preparing for a colonoscopy is essential to getting a clear and accurate look at the condition of your colon. Thus, it is vital you follow your doctor’s instructions prior to the procedure. Knowing exactly what will happen and what you need to do can ensure the procedure goes smoothly.
A colonoscopy involves the insertion of a colonoscope through the anus. This instrument is a thin and flexible tube with a tiny camera and light at its end. This setup allows the doctor to visualize the interior of the colon. To facilitate viewing, your colon will be filled with air at the beginning of the procedure. Tissue samples of suspicious growths will be removed using other instruments at the end of the scope.
For the best possible view of the colon, it must be as empty as possible. For this reason, preparation for a colonoscopy usually starts at least a day before the actual procedure.
Your doctor will tell you what time you will need to stop eating. At the given time, you will need to stop consuming solid foods, although certain types of liquids will be allowed the day before the procedure. For example, the typical rule is to consume only clear liquids such as water, broth, or light-colored sports drinks. Nontransparent liquids, such as milk or cream, are typically prohibited. This is to ensure dark-colored liquids don’t inadvertently cover or mask the lining of the colon, which could interfere with the ability to obtain a clear, accurate look at your large intestine during the procedure.
The evening before your colonoscopy, you will be given a strong laxative to take. This will induce diarrhea to clear the intestines of any food or waste product. At this point you will want to remain home where a bathroom is nearby when you need it.
You will be instructed to continue to drink liquids up until a certain point the night before the procedure. Stop all liquids when your doctor tells you to. This will help avoid complications with the use of anesthesia during the colonoscopy.
Getting Medical Care
Prepping for a colonoscopy, as well as receiving one, requires close cooperation between you and medical experts who can provide you with the very best health care. Intercoastal Medical Group specializes in both primary care and specialist care.