Colonoscopy | Gastro MD (2023)

45 is the new 50! When it comes to colonoscopies, there’s recently been a significant change that you’ll want to make yourself aware of immediately.

Prompted by a recent alarming rise in cases of colorectal cancer in people younger than 50, an independent expert panel has recommended that individuals of average risk for the disease begin screening exams at 45 years of age instead of the traditional 50.

Thanks to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force issuing this new guideline, many health insurance companies are now allowed to cover the cost of testing at a younger age, including preventive procedures such as colonoscopies and stool tests designed to detect colon cancer in its early stages.

All of which brings us back to the most fundamental question:

What is a Colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is a procedure that allows your doctor to see the entire length of your large intestine and rectum. It is the “gold standard” of colorectal exams because it is the most accurate colon cancer test. It not only detects abnormalities but can eliminate them before they become malignant. This makes a colonoscopy a great part of a preventative health regime.

What is a Colonoscopy Used for?

A colonoscopy is a procedure used to detect and treat ulcers, polyps, or cancers in the large intestine (colon) and rectum. It is also used to investigate the cause of:

  • Blood, mucus, or pus in the stools.
  • Unexplained weight loss.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Continuous diarrhea.
  • Rectal bleeding.

With regular screening, colonoscopies can proactively keep many conditions from even starting.

What is the Colon?

The colon, also called the large intestine or large bowel, is a five-foot-long tubular organ in your abdomen that helps digest food, absorb water, extract electrolytes and nutrients, and process food residue for excretion as a bowel movement. The process of transporting food through the intestines and out as a bowel movement takes 24 to 72 hours.

The large intestine also contains 100 trillion “good” bacteria essential in the digestive process. These bacteria have many functions, including:

  • Breaking down food.
  • Counteracting harmful bacteria and protecting against intestinal infections.
  • Making Vitamin K, which promotes blood clotting.

Why Should I Get a Colonoscopy?

Of all the colorectal exams available, a colonoscopy is best at detecting and removing growths or lesions before they become dangerous. Many other types of screenings only detect an abnormality after it has begun bleeding or exhibiting signs of a more advanced condition.

This procedure can provide an accurate diagnosis without resorting to an operation. This is why a colonoscopy is the best choice for maintaining colon health.

(Video) Dr. Marvin E. Lawrence, M.D., FACG - Colonoscopy

How Do I Prepare for a Colonoscopy?

To prepare for a colonoscopy, you’ll need to do a bowel prep before the procedure, which removes all traces of feces from your colon. A bowel prep typically includes medication changes or adjustments. Your doctor may adjust your medications up to seven days before your colonoscopy. Topping the list are blood thinners, including:

  • Coumadin.
  • Plavix.

You’ll also need to stop taking:

  • Antidiarrheal medications, including Imodium and Pepto Bismol.
  • NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as Aleve or Advil.
  • Certain diabetic medications.
  • Iron supplements.
  • Fiber supplements such as Benefiber and Metamucil.

During your bowel prep, you’ll need to refrain from eating certain high-fiber foods, including:

  • Brown rice.
  • Peanuts.
  • Popcorn.
  • Whole grain bread.

Your doctor will put you on a clear liquid diet a day before the colonoscopy. A clear liquid is one you can read a magazine through. These include:

  • Water.
  • Apple juice.
  • Clear sports drinks.
  • Ginger ale.
  • Broth (beef, vegetable, or chicken).
  • Plain Jell-O.

One of the most important parts of bowel prep is clearing all traces of waste from your colon. This is so your doctor has an unobstructed view of your intestine and can clearly see any abnormalities. You’ll be asked to take a laxative or an enema to flush out all fecal matter. Because of this, you will have diarrhea until your colon is completely evacuated.

How is a Colonoscopy Done?

A colonoscopy is an outpatient procedure that takes about 30 to 60 minutes.

You will be asked to change into a hospital gown when you arrive. You will lie down on an examination table, and intravenous sedation will be administered. You will not be aware of what is happening during the colonoscopy or remember anything afterward.

(Video) Neal Shindel MD colonoscopy

After the anesthesia takes effect, your doctor will insert a colonoscope into your anus and guide it through your intestine. A colonoscope is a flexible tube equipped with a light and a camera. It is about five feet long (the length of your colon) and half an inch wide. Air is also introduced to inflate the colon, making its walls more visible.

The colonoscope’s camera relays images to a monitor so your doctor can look at a detailed, real-time view of your intestine. The scope also has an attachment that can remove polyps or questionable-looking tissue for lab analysis.

(Video) What to expect during a colonoscopy

What Happens After the Colonoscopy?

After the colonoscopy, you’ll stay under observation for one or two hours to make sure you’re okay. You’ll feel groggy and sluggish. You won’t be able to drive, so you’ll need someone to take you home. This must be someone you know rather than an Uber or taxi driver. You shouldn’t drive for about 24 hours after the procedure.

Some rectal bleeding is normal if you have had a polyp removed and shouldn’t cause concern.

You may feel bloated or cramped afterward as air is released from your colon. Walking may help pass the gas. Don’t be embarrassed. The staff knows this is a normal part of the process.

How Long Will It Be Until My Next Bowel Movement?

Since your colon is completely empty, it may take several days for your body to produce bowel movements. You may have a bowel movement sooner if you eat plenty of roughage, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

(Video) My Colonoscopy by Eilynn Sipe, MD

Can I Resume My Regular Diet After a Colonoscopy?

The bowel prep you did is very dehydrating. You’ll need to replace the electrolytes and liquids that you lost. Since the colon’s lining may be irritated, your doctor may recommend that you drink generous amounts of fluids and eat soft, mild foods for the first day or two.

Foods you can eat after the procedure include:

  • Scrambled eggs.
  • Applesauce.
  • White bread.
  • Pudding.
  • Mashed potatoes.

Liquids you can have after a colonoscopy include:

  • Water.
  • Drinks with electrolytes, such as sports drinks.
  • Soup.
  • Herbal tea.

After the procedure, avoid spicy foods and anything else that could aggravate your bowels. These foods can also exacerbate any nausea you may feel from the anesthesia.

Foods that you should steer clear of after the procedure include:

  • Spices such as garlic and pepper.
  • Brown rice.
  • Fried foods.
  • Raw vegetables.

Liquids to avoid after a colonoscopy include:

  • Alcohol.
  • Coffee with cream.
  • Carbonated drinks.
  • Milk.

When Should I Start Getting Colonoscopies?

It can’t be said enough – 45 is the new 50. The American Cancer Society now recommends colonoscopies every 10 years starting at age 45 if you don’t have any risk factors. Risk factors include:

  • A family history of colorectal cancer.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBS).
  • You’ve been exposed to radiation around your abdomen.
  • Certain types of polyps were found previously.

Lowering the recommended age to start screening will make colorectal cancer screening, which is so important, available to millions more people in the United States. Hopefully, many more lives will be saved by catching colorectal cancer earlier, as well as by preventing colorectal cancer.

(Video) Colonoscopy Jerry Dixon, MD

Once you start regular screenings, you can typically follow the 10-year schedule until age 75. Then you can have screenings at your discretion, stopping at age 85. Your doctor will advise a schedule for you.

A colonoscopy is something that, under no conditions, shouldn’t be put off. Colonoscopies not only detect the disease but prevent cancer because precancerous polyps can be removed during the procedure. Thorough and accurate, it’s an unrivaled type of colorectal screening. If you’re 45 or older and have never had a colonoscopy, our experts will discuss it with you in-depth and dispel any concerns you may have about the procedure.

Contact Us

Contact us today! The team of professionals at GastroMD looks forward to working with you. We are one of the leading gastroenterology practices in Tampa Bay. We perform a host of diagnostic procedures using state-of-the-art equipment in a friendly, comfortable, and inviting atmosphere where patient care is always a top priority!


What kind of doctor does a colonoscopy? ›

A Gastroenterologist is a specialist in gastrointestinal diseases and has received special training in colonoscopy. Gastroenterologists perform more colonoscopies by far than any other specialty. Non-gastroenterologists are five times more likely to miss colorectal cancer during colonoscopy than Gastroenterologists 1.

Do all gastroenterologists do colonoscopies? ›

Surprisingly, a lot of colonoscopies that are performed in the U.S. are not always performed by a gastroenterologist.

Is colonoscopy a surgery or procedure? ›

A colonoscopy is a procedure that lets your health care provider check the inside of your entire colon (large intestine). The procedure is done using a long, flexible tube called a colonoscope. The tube has a light and a tiny camera on one end. It is put in your rectum and moved into your colon.

What are the two types of colonoscopy? ›

There are two types of colonoscopy: screening and diagnostic. Talk to you doctor about which you may need and understand your benefits for both types before the procedure.

How long does a colonoscopy take? ›

The doctor can also insert instruments through the channel to take tissue samples (biopsies) or remove polyps or other areas of abnormal tissue. A colonoscopy typically takes about 30 to 60 minutes.

Is colonoscopy a serious surgery? ›

In general, colonoscopy is a safe procedure. As with any medical procedure, however, there are some risks associated with the procedure and with the sedation used. You should contact your doctor if you feel severe abdominal pain, dizziness, fever, chills or rectal bleeding after the colonoscopy.

How long does it take to recover from a colonoscopy? ›

Because a colonoscopy is performed with the patient under the effects of sedation, the patient will need to arrange for a ride home. Once they are at home, patients should allow themselves at least 24 hours to rest and recover.

Can a colonoscopy be done without sedation? ›

Millions of people each year have a colonoscopy and do well, even without sedation. A colonoscopy is the gold standard for colon cancer screening. During the procedure, a doctor can view your entire colon and rectum, and remove potentially premalignant growths called polyps.

Can you check colon without colonoscopy? ›

Stool based tests, such as Cologuard or FIT, are reasonable alternatives for patients who are unable or unwilling to undergo a standard colonoscopy. Screening saves lives. Talk to your doctor about the appropriate colon cancer screening option for you.

Can a doctor tell if polyp is cancerous during colonoscopy? ›

Most polyps are benign (not cancerous). Your doctor can tell if a colon polyp is cancerous during a colonoscopy by collecting tissue to biopsy. The results of the biopsy are typically sent to your doctor within a week. Only 5% to 10% of all polyps become cancerous.

What are risks of colonoscopy? ›

Risks associated with colonoscopy include:
  • Perforated intestine. Intestinal perforations are tiny tears in the rectum wall or colon. ...
  • Bleeding. ...
  • Post-polypectomy electrocoagulation syndrome. ...
  • Adverse reaction to anesthetic. ...
  • Infection. ...
  • Colonoscopy risks for older adults.

What should you not do after a colonoscopy? ›

Colonoscopy Recovery: After the Procedure

The effects of the sedation could last up to a day, so you should not drive or operate any machinery until the following day. You may feel gassy or bloated for a while after the procedure because of the air that was injected into your intestine during the colonoscopy.

Is a CT scan an alternative for colonoscopy? ›

Virtual colonoscopy is also known as screening CT colonography. Unlike traditional colonoscopy, which requires a scope to be inserted into your rectum and advanced through your colon, virtual colonoscopy uses a CT scan to produce hundreds of cross-sectional images of your abdominal organs.

Can a colonoscopy detect cancers? ›

Screening is crucial for cancer detection because most colorectal cancers don't cause symptoms in the early stages. Many times, doctors first spot colon cancer during a routine screening colonoscopy.

Is a stool test better than a colonoscopy? ›

The DNA stool test is less sensitive than colonoscopy at detecting precancerous polyps. If abnormalities are found, additional tests might be needed. The tests can suggest an abnormality when none is present (false-positive result).

How long are you sore after a colonoscopy? ›

Is it normal to have pain a week after a colonoscopy? No, any pain or discomfort after a colonoscopy should resolve in a day. If you are still in pain beyond a day after your procedure, contact your care team.

Can I go to work the day after a colonoscopy? ›

Colonoscopy recovery is usually quick with most people resuming normal activity the next day. Even so, it is important not to rush back to work. It is best to take the remainder of the day to rest, recover from sedation, and replenish fluids and nutrition. The results of your exam should be available within a few days.

How long are you put to sleep for a colonoscopy? ›

The entire procedure usually takes 20-30 minutes. Thanks to the sedatives you were given, you'll likely sleep through the whole thing. Most patients don't remember anything from the actual procedure. If any abnormalities were noted during the colonoscopy, your doctor will discuss these with you after the procedure.

Can you be hospitalized after a colonoscopy? ›

It should take 30 to 45 minutes to have your colonoscopy. But you might be at the hospital for around 2 hours from getting there to going home.

How do you feel after colonoscopy? ›

After the test, you may be bloated or have gas pains. You may need to pass gas. If a biopsy was done or a polyp was removed, you may have streaks of blood in your stool (feces) for a few days. Problems such as heavy rectal bleeding may not occur until several weeks after the test.

What age should you get a colonoscopy? ›

People at average risk should start regular screening at age 45. People who are in good health and expected to live at least more 10 years should continue regular screening through the age of 75. People ages 76 through 85 should decide with their health care provider whether to continue to get screened.

How long till you poop after colonoscopy? ›

It could take 2 to 3 days before you have a bowel movement after your colonoscopy because you completely emptied your colon and rectum ahead of the procedure. You may notice a little bit of blood in your first stool after your colonoscopy, especially if your doctor removed a polyp or took a biopsy of abnormal tissue.

How long does colonoscopy pooping last? ›

When will I stop moving my bowels? Most people stop moving their bowels about 2 – 3 hours after finishing the solution. People are different and some have liquid movements until the time of the procedure. The instrument used during the colonoscopy will suction out any liquid left in the bowel.

Are you sleeping during a colonoscopy? ›

Almost all colonoscopies in the United States are performed with patients under a level of sedation or anesthesia that prevents them from feeling anything. Often, patients are asleep for the entire procedure.

Why do they put you to sleep during a colonoscopy? ›

AS The main advantages of sedative agents are that they allow patients to feel comfortable and relaxed during the endoscopic procedure and to experience little to no pain. Deep sedation, in most cases, allows patients to sleep through the procedure without remembering any medical activity upon waking up.

Do you get a urine catheter during a colonoscopy? ›

You may need a catheter (fine plastic drain tube) put in your front passage to drain the urine from your bladder until you are able to pass urine comfortably on your own.

What symptoms require a colonoscopy? ›

A colonoscopy may be performed to find the cause of signs and symptoms including:
  • bleeding from the rectum.
  • blood in the stools.
  • pus or mucus in the stools.
  • unexplained abdominal pain.
  • changes in bowel habits such as unexplained and long-lasting diarrhoea.
  • screening and surveillance for colorectal cancer.

What organs can a colonoscopy see? ›

Understanding upper endoscopy and colonoscopy
  • Upper endoscopy – The esophagus, stomach, and small intestines can be viewed by a thin flexible tube inserted through the mouth.
  • Colonoscopy – The lining of the large intestine, colon and rectum can be viewed by a flexible tube inserted through the rectum.

What are usually the first symptoms of colon? ›

Diarrhea, constipation, or feeling that the bowel does not empty completely. General abdominal discomfort, such as frequent gas pains, bloating, fullness and/or cramps. Constant feeling of fatigue or tiredness.

What are the symptoms of cancerous polyps in the colon? ›

  • Rectal bleeding. This can be a sign of colon polyps or cancer or other conditions, such as hemorrhoids or minor tears of the anus.
  • Change in stool color. Blood can show up as red streaks in your stool or make stool appear black. ...
  • Change in bowel habits. ...
  • Pain. ...
  • Iron deficiency anemia.
20 Jul 2021

What is the main cause of colon polyps? ›

A polyp is the result of genetic changes in the cells of the colon lining that affect the normal cell life cycle. Many factors can increase the risk or rate of these changes. Factors are related to your diet, lifestyle, older age, gender and genetics or hereditary issues.

What symptoms do bowel polyps cause? ›

Bowel polyps do not usually cause any symptoms, so most people with polyps will not know they have them.
But some larger polyps can cause:
  • a small amount of slime (mucus) or blood in your poo (rectal bleeding)
  • diarrhoea or constipation.
  • pain in your tummy (abdominal pain)

What is a good first meal after a colonoscopy? ›

After a colonoscopy, eat foods that are soft and easy to digest to ease side effects such as bloating or gas. This may include eggs, white toast, and applesauce for breakfast. For lunch or dinner, choices could include lean chicken without skin, mashed potatoes, and soft-cooked carrots.

What can you eat 2 days after a colonoscopy? ›

  • Applesauce.
  • Yogurt.
  • Canned fruit (without any skins)
  • Jell-O.
  • Popsicles.
  • Graham crackers.
  • Saltine crackers.
  • Soup.
25 Apr 2022

Is there a new prep for colonoscopy? ›

The FDA recently approved a new colonoscopy prep tablet that may make it easier for patients as they prepare for this colorectal cancer screening procedure.

What anesthesia is used for colonoscopy? ›

Most often, either moderate sedation or deep sedation with the anesthetic propofol are used for colonoscopies. An anesthesiologist is sometimes present for moderate sedation — sometimes called conscious sedation by patients, though the term is technically incorrect.

Why are colonoscopies not recommended after age 75? ›

There are risks involved with colonoscopy, such as bleeding and perforation of the colon, and also risks involved with the preparation, especially in older people,” Dr. Umar said.

What happens if a tumor is found during a colonoscopy? ›

Usually if a suspected colorectal cancer is found by any screening or diagnostic test, it is biopsied during a colonoscopy. In a biopsy, the doctor removes a small piece of tissue with a special instrument passed through the scope. Less often, part of the colon may need to be surgically removed to make the diagnosis.

What happens if they find polyps during colonoscopy? ›

Colonoscopy, the most sensitive test for colorectal polyps and cancer. If polyps are found, your doctor may remove them immediately or take tissue samples (biopsies) for analysis.

Where are most colon cancers found? ›

Nearly all cases of colorectal cancer develop from polyps. They start in the inner lining of the colon and most often affect the left side of the colon and rectum.

Is there another test instead of colonoscopy? ›

A colonoscopy is not your only option for screening for colon cancer. Other screening methods are sigmoidoscopy, virtual colonoscopy, a fecal immunochemical test, a fecal occult blood test, or a stool DNA test.

Can polyps come out in your stool? ›

The spontaneous expulsion per rectum of a polyp is rare, and the literature regarding such cases is limited. There have been several reported cases of rectal expulsion of lipomas [22-29]. With an incidence of 0.035-4.4%, lipomas are the second-most common benign tumors of the colon [22].

How often should you have a colonoscopy if polyps are found? ›

People who have precancerous polyps completely removed should have a colonoscopy every 3-5 years, depending on the size and number of polyps found. If there are 1-2 polyps <1 cm in size (~1/2 inch), then another colonoscopy in 5 years is appropriate.

What conditions can be diagnosed with a colonoscopy? ›

Colonoscopies can detect conditions like colitis, inflammatory bowel disease and diverticulosis. But mainly, doctors are looking for precancerous or cancerous colon polyps, which are growths on the inside of the colon's lining.

Does urologist do colonoscopy? ›

During a colonoscopy, a urologist collects colon tissue samples, removes abnormal growths from the colon and searches for cancer in the colon and rectum. La Peer Health Systems performs colonoscopies, and we recommend men and women 50 and older undergo a colonoscopy at least once every 10 years.

What is the difference between a gastroenterologist and a general surgeon? ›

In simple terms, a gastroenterologist is not a surgeon. Gastroenterologists do not carry out surgical operations. But they work with gastrointestinal surgeons, who perform surgical procedures to repair or remove parts of the digestive system.

What can you not do after a colonoscopy? ›

Avoid the following after a colonoscopy:
  • spicy or well-seasoned foods.
  • whole or chopped nuts.
  • alcohol.
  • popcorn.
  • coconut.
  • fried foods, such as chicken fingers and french fries.
  • corn.
  • raw or undercooked vegetables.

Do you stay overnight after a colonoscopy? ›

After a colonoscopy, you'll stay at the clinic until you wake up. Then you can go home. But you'll need to arrange for a ride. Your doctor will tell you when you can eat and do your other usual activities.

What makes a colonoscopy urgent? ›

Urgent colonoscopy was defined as colonoscopy performed at the bedside 6 to 12 hours after hospitalization or the diagnosis of hematochezia and within 1 hour after clearance of stool, blood, and clots, as documented by a physician.

Can general surgeons do colonoscopies? ›

We believe with proper training, safe and good quality colonoscopy can be performed by the General Surgeons.

Is it better to have a colonoscopy at a hospital? ›

Unless you have a health condition that requires you to have access to a full-service hospital, you'll likely be able to have your colonoscopy at a surgical center instead…with less hassle. Surgery centers have been performing safe, high-quality outpatient services for more than 40 years – benefitting you, the patient.

Do colorectal surgeons do colonoscopies? ›

Cleveland Clinic study finds that both gastroenterologists and colorectal surgeons meet quality benchmarks. Screening colonoscopy is performed by endoscopists from multiple specialties, primarily gastroenterologists and colorectal surgeons.

What surgeries do gastroenterologists perform? ›

  • Gastrointestinal Cancer Surgery.
  • Hernia Surgery.
  • Esophagus and Foregut Surgery.
  • Gallbladder Surgery.
  • Liver and Bile Duct Surgery.
  • Pancreas Surgery.

What is the difference between surgeon and MD? ›

Dear Purushotam, Both are doctors but surgean is specialize in surgery. Surgean is a person who performs surgery. Surgeons may be physicians, dentists, or veterinarians.


1. The importance of good colonoscopy preparation
(MD Anderson Cancer Center)
2. What to expect after a colonoscopy
(MD Anderson Cancer Center)
3. Preparing for your colonoscopy - John Arledge, MD
(Tanner Health System)
4. Mariam Naveed, MD - Why should I have a colonoscopy?
(University of Iowa Health Care)
5. Thomas Fazio, MD - Pain-Free Colonoscopy
6. Should I Get A Colonoscopy? - Dr Christy's Answer Might Surprise You!
(Christy Risinger, MD)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Maia Crooks Jr

Last Updated: 01/20/2023

Views: 5539

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (63 voted)

Reviews: 86% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Maia Crooks Jr

Birthday: 1997-09-21

Address: 93119 Joseph Street, Peggyfurt, NC 11582

Phone: +2983088926881

Job: Principal Design Liaison

Hobby: Web surfing, Skiing, role-playing games, Sketching, Polo, Sewing, Genealogy

Introduction: My name is Maia Crooks Jr, I am a homely, joyous, shiny, successful, hilarious, thoughtful, joyous person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.