Colonoscopy – What to Expect

Gastrointestinal Medical Associates pic
Gastrointestinal Medical Associates

As a physician at Gastrointestinal Medical Associates in Reston, Virginia, Soloman Shah, MD, draws on more than 20 years of practice experience. In this time, Dr. Soloman Shah has performed numerous colonoscopy procedures.

A colonoscopy allows a physician to view the interior of the patient’s large intestine. It is a common screening procedure for patients aged 50 years or older, though it may also serve as a diagnostic tool for patients who are experiencing such symptoms as rectal bleeding, bowel habit changes, or abdominal pain.

The procedure requires the physician to insert a flexible tube through the rectum. The physician then guides this tube through the colon and into the small intestine. The patient must prepare for this experience by emptying the bowel to clean the colon. This typically requires the individual to drink a solution or receive a sequence of enemas.

Once the patient arrives at the doctor’s office, he or she receives a sedative that helps the patient go to sleep. The physician then inserts the half-inch-wide colonoscope, the end of which features a light and camera used to visualize the colon. The procedure may only involve this kind of visual inspection, though some cases may require the surgeon to physically remove tissue for biopsy.

The full procedure lasts up to 30 minutes, though recovery from the anesthesia requires another 30 minutes. Most physicians recommend that patients secure a ride home and avoid operating heavy machinery, including cars, for a full 24 hours. The office sends the patient home with any relevant post-surgical instructions, including any necessary prescriptions.