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What is a colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is an endoscopic procedure during which a long, thin, flexible tube or “scope” is placed into the rectum and advanced through the entire colon (large intestine). The scope has a light and a camera on the end of it, which allows the physician to examine the lining of the colon. A colonoscopy may be performed to diagnose the cause of gastrointestinal symptoms, such as diarrhea, bleeding, abdominal pain, or abnormal x-ray results.

A colonoscopy may also be performed on an asymptomatic patient at age 45 or sooner, depending on the patient’s history, to screen for colon cancer and polyps. The colonoscopy is the only colorectal prevention strategy available. As leading specialists in digestive health, the board-certified gastroenterologists at GI Alliance routinely perform colonoscopy exams. Please contact an office near you to learn more.

Colonoscopy exams are the most reliable defense against developing colon cancer, which is why it is very important for individuals over 45 or at higher risk of colon cancer to have these screenings as recommended by your physician. Regular colonoscopy screenings can offer many benefits for your gastrointestinal health and general health. A few of the advantages of colonoscopy exams include the following:

  • Detect initial signs of colon and rectal cancer

  • Detect and remove abnormal growths

  • Identify cases of diverticulosis, IBD, and other conditions

  • Serve as the most effective screening option for colon and/or rectal cancer

  • Can be a life-saving exam

With the help of the latest technology, colorectal cancer screenings are executed faster, more comfortably, and more accurately than in previous years.

What should I expect during a colonoscopy?

You will receive instructions from your doctor at GI Alliance regarding the necessary bowel preparation to get you ready for your exam. Most patients will be on clear liquids the entire day before the exam. There are several different options for laxatives to entirely clean out the colon. It is very important to follow the instructions given to you by your doctor. There will also be additional instructions regarding your medications. In most cases, your medications will be continued as usual. However, in certain circumstances, especially in patients on blood thinners (i.e., Coumadin, warfarin, Plavix, aspirin, anti-inflammatories) and in diabetics, special instructions will be given. Patients will be instructed not to take anything by mouth after midnight except for medications.

You will be asked to arrive at the endoscopy center at your local GI Alliance location 1 – 1.5 hours before your exam. This is to allow time to fill out paperwork and prepare for the exam. You will be asked to change into a medical gown. An intravenous (IV) catheter will be started in your arm so that sedation can be administered. You will be connected to equipment that will allow the doctor and staff to monitor your heart rate, blood pressure, pulse, electrocardiogram, breathing, and oxygen level during and after the exam.

Once in the exam room, you will be asked to lie on your left side on the stretcher. The IV sedation will be started. Small amounts are given to ensure your safety and provide only the amount you need individually. Once an adequate level of sedation is achieved, the physician will perform a rectal exam. The colonoscope will then be gently inserted into the rectum. The scope will be carefully advanced throughout the colon to where the small bowel and colon meet. A small amount of air is placed through the scope and into the colon to help the physician see. Any fluid remaining in the colon after the preparation can be washed and suctioned out through the scope.

Depending on the findings of the exam, several things can be done at the time of the procedure, including biopsies, the removal of polyps, and the control of bleeding. At the end of the procedure, as much of the air and remaining fluid as possible is suctioned out of the colon through the scope. Depending on the findings, the exam takes approximately 15 – 30 minutes.

When will I get my results?

After the exam is complete, you will be taken to the recovery room to be monitored while the sedation starts to wear off. The amount of sedation used during the exam and your individual response to the medication will dictate how quickly you will wake up, though most patients are awake enough for discharge within 45 – 60 minutes.

You will not be allowed to drive for the rest of the day; therefore, you will need to arrange for a ride home. You will also be instructed not to work, sign important papers, or perform strenuous activities for the rest of the day. Most patients are able to eat and drink normally after their discharge from the Endoscopy unit; however, specific instructions regarding activity, eating, and medications will be given prior to discharge.

After the exam, the doctor and/or nurse will go over the findings of the procedure with you. Most patients will not remember what they are told after the exam because of the effects of the sedation. It is recommended, if possible, to bring someone with you to whom the results can also be discussed. You will also go home with a typed report. You will be informed of any biopsy results usually within one week.

What are the alternatives to a colonoscopy?

To an extent, the alternatives to the exam will depend on the reason for needing to undergo the colonoscopy in the first place. In most cases, a colonoscopy is the best method to evaluate and treat abnormalities in the colon. In fact, it’s the only prevention method available for colorectal cancer. However, there are different x-rays that can evaluate the colon, including a barium enema and virtual CT scan. These are, however, only diagnostic exams. Treatment of abnormalities will require a colonoscopy or surgery.

What are the risks of a colonoscopy?

In general, colonoscopy is a very safe procedure. Overall, complications occur in less than 1% of patients. Most complications are not life-threatening. However, if a complication occurs, it may require hospitalization and surgery. Prior to the exam, a consent form will be reviewed with the patient by the nursing staff. Should any questions or concerns arise, these can be discussed with your physician prior to beginning the procedure.

Medication reactions associated with the sedation can occur. These can include, but are not limited to, allergic reactions, difficulty breathing, effects on the heart and blood pressure, and irritation of the vein used to give the medication.

Bleeding can occur with biopsies and the removal of polyps. Again, significant bleeding, which might require a blood transfusion or hospitalization, is very uncommon. However, bleeding can occur at the time of the exam or up to two weeks after the exam if a polyp is removed.

Perforation or puncture of the colon can occur. This may be recognized at the time of the exam, or it may not be apparent until later in the day. In most cases, a perforation will require surgery and hospitalization. This is an uncommon complication, even when polyps are removed.

It is very important that you contact your doctor’s office immediately if symptoms arise after the procedure, such as worsening abdominal pain, bleeding, or fever.

Like any other test, a colonoscopy is not perfect. There is a small, accepted risk that abnormalities, including polyps and cancers, can be missed at the time of the exam. It is important to continue to follow up with your doctor at GI Alliance as instructed and inform them of any new or persistent symptoms.

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By what age should you schedule your colonoscopy exam?

We suggest that individuals with an average risk of developing colon cancer begin getting their colon cancer screenings around age 45. In the event your chances of colon cancer are higher or if you are showing concerning symptoms of colon cancer, your GI specialist could advise getting a colonoscopy before that age.

How often is it suggested to have a colonoscopy?

Gastroenterologists suggest receiving a colonoscopy about every ten years for individuals who have a general risk, who are in favorable health, and when their colonoscopy test results are within normal limits. After your screening, your GI doctor will inform you of when you should have colonoscopy screenings moving forward.

Is a colonoscopy an uncomfortable process?

Sedation will be administered ahead of your colon cancer exam to help ensure your comfort level throughout your screening. Depending on the type of sedation given, you may be in an intensely relaxed state or even feel drowsy, and might have virtually no recollection of the procedure. You can speak with your GI specialist about what to expect during your consultation.

What is the recovery time for a colonoscopy?

Generally, you can expect it to take about 24 hours for you to recuperate after having a colonoscopy. The recovery period may take longer if polyps were removed. Many patients are able to resume normal daily activities the next day. You may experience a bit of stomach irritation after a colonoscopy, such as bloating and cramping. Your GI Alliance team will provide more information on what you can expect while you recover.

The gold standard for colon cancer screening

A colonoscopy is considered the “gold standard” of all screening methods. Unlike many screening methods, a colonoscopy is a prevention strategy that allows for the examination of the entire colon and the removal of polyps within one procedure. For some other screening methods, the ability to remove polyps is not available, and if the test returns positive for polyps, you will likely need a colonoscopy. You can schedule a colonoscopy at your local GI Alliance office. A regular colonoscopy just might save your life. If you would like to know more about how to get a colonoscopy, contact GI Alliance today.

This is the second that Dr. Youseff performed my endoscopy/colonoscopy. I would recommend him and the facilities he uses to anybody!! The first one was in Richland Hills, this one in Mansfield. Excellent customer service from the time I walked in the door, until I was wheeled out... I have been an RN for 38 years and I was impressed!!! An Awesome experience, both times.

E.F. Google

I am a RN living with MBC....this seems like a good doctor.... He has compassion Didn't act like God I think he has a great staff...edited to add...colonoscopy done!! He is a great doc....has fantastic staff..

F.C. Google

First time seeing him. It was a great His Mansfield office is close to my house and the colonoscopy is performed right next door. Very efficient. Phones are answered promptly and his staff is very helpful. Excellent first impression. I look forward to him being my gastroenterologist.

J.W. Google

Dr Youssef was very thorough explaining why I needed a colonoscopy and how it would be done. I felt better when I left knowing he would be one doing this procedure.

L.H. Google


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