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Colonoscopy: how do I prepare for the test?

By | John Preston

Are you going to face a colonoscopy or are you considering doing it for prevention? In this article we talk about this painless test, which is performed under sedation and which involves following prior preparation. So, we want you to feel much safer when it comes to a colonoscopy, therefore, we have highlighted the most important points that you should take into account before the test.

What is a colonoscopy?

Colonoscopy is a medical test that is used to observe the interior of the colon, from the year to the bottom of the cecum, also known as the “bottom of the sac” and which corresponds to the first part of the large intestine. The test is performed by specialized health personnel and with an instrument called a colonoscopy, a flexible tube with a small camera at one end that is inserted to reach the entire length of the colon.

Does a colonoscopy hurt?

A Colonoscopy is performed under sedation and is painless. It lasts approximately 30 minutes and if any suspicious-looking areas are detected, a sample can be taken for analysis. This process is called a biopsy and is usually carried out if polyps are found, an accumulation of cells in the lining of the colon that are usually benign but that over time can lead to colon cancer.

When is colonoscopy with sedation recommended?

This test is performed on people who have a problem in the colon or rectum, require treatment in that part or, in most cases, to look for polyps and detect possible colon cancer. This test will be carry out:

  • From the age of 50 as a preventive method, with the periodicity that the doctor indicates.
  • People who may have a serious pathology that involves a risk factor.
  • People who bleed when having a bowel movement.
  • People with anemia with no known cause.

How do I prepare for the colonoscopy?

1. Previous visit in which the team will explain everything to you

The first of all will be a consultation in which you will receive all the detailed information about this procedure. During the test you will remain under sedation, but before it the patient has a very important role: follow the recommendations carefully so that the intestine is sufficiently clean and empty, and the endoscopist can observe the walls well. In this session:

  • You will be given the laxative and the instructions for taking it.
  • The procedure will be explained to you.
  • You will be informed about the sedation and you will be given the appropriate instructions for the test.
  • The doctor will ask you what medications you take to assess how you should ingest them before the test.

2. Preparation at home with diet and laxative medication

The day before the examination the patient must take a laxative to ensure that the intestine is completely clean. This process does not cause pain, but it does cause some discomfort, since it is necessary to stay close to the toilet. The last stools have to be liquid and clear, showing that the intestine is clean enough.

In addition, your doctor will recommend a specific diet to follow a few days before, without fiber foods, whole foods, fruits or vegetables. The day before, they will ask you to follow a specific diet of transparent liquids, for example, with apple juice or filtered broth. In this way the intestine will be clean.

Six hours before the test you should not eat any food, either solid or liquid. Your doctor will tell you how long you can drink water.

How is the test carried out?

Colonoscopy with sedation

Go to the medical center at the indicated time, a little before the test, and be accompanied by an adult if the doctor has told you so. You will go to the test room where you will be placed on your side on the stretcher and you will proceed to sedation to perform the test, which lasts approximately 30 minutes, and can be prolonged a little longer in the event that several polyps appear.

During this process, the doctor will proceed to introduce the colonoscope through the anus and gradually slide it through the entire intestine. Thanks to sedation, the colonoscopy does not hurt and does not even cause discomfort. If necessary, possible polyps will be removed for analysis and the patient will receive the results in the following days.

One hour break

This test does not require hospitalization, but the patient will spend an hour recovering from sedation before returning home. The ideal is to return accompanied by an adult and due to the sedation it is not necessary to return home driving yourself. Nor do you have to work in the after hours and respect the rest time indicated by your doctor.

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