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What Is A Colonoscopy or Colon Cancer Screening?

A colonoscopy is a diagnostic procedure in which a long, narrow tube (known as a colonoscope) is inserted into the rectum, equipped with a very small video camera which can detect changes or anomalies in the rectum and large intestine. Tissue may be removed through the colonoscope during the procedure. This is done either for removal of polyps or other harmful tissue, or to take a biopsy sample.

How Do You Prepare For A Colonoscopy?

Before your colonoscopy, you’ll first need to obtain medical clearance for anesthesia from a qualified MD. You can schedule an appointment with us to gain clearance a few days before the procedure. Specific preparation for your colonoscopy depends on a number of pre-existing medical factors, including constipation, heart problems, or potential pregnancy. There are a variety of bowel preparation prescriptions available, and you should talk to your doctor in advance to choose the one that’s right for you.

In the three days prior to your colonoscopy, avoid foods like popcorn or quinoa with little seeds, which take longer to be cleaned out from the colon. Bring up any specific dietary questions you may have with your doctor. The day before a colonoscopy, have a light lunch (no salad as roughage also tends to stick in the digestive tract) before 2:00 PM. After 2:00 PM, don’t consume anything other than clear liquids.

The night before the procedure, you absolutely should not consume ANYTHING after midnight, including water.

Why Should I Have A Colonoscopy Performed?

A colonoscopy may be performed to find the cause of chronic symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, or rectal bleeding. A colonoscopy may also reveal early symptoms of colon cancer (colorectal cancer). Over 130,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with colon cancer each year and, while potentially fatal, this disease is largely preventable if discovered early.

Who Should Get A Colonoscopy?

It is typically recommended that you get a colonoscopy at least once every ten years starting at the age of 50. However, it’s important to consider other factors as well as age. If you have a close relative who has been diagnosed with colon cancer or polyps, it may be a good idea to schedule an appointment earlier on. A good rule of thumb is to get your first colonoscopy ten years before the age at which your family member was diagnosed. For instance, if you have a parent who was diagnosed with colorectal cancer at 48, you should get your first screening when you turn 38.

What Can You Expect During A Colonoscopy?

You will be comfortably asleep for the procedure, anesthesia having been administered by a board-certified anesthesiologist prior to the colonoscopy. The exam itself will take less than an hour.

What Is The Follow Up And Recovery Like For A Colonoscopy?

It will take around an hour to recover from the anesthetic, and it may be up to a day before the side effects have fully worn off. You will need someone to give you a ride home and should refrain from driving or going back to work for the rest of the day. We will review the results of your colonoscopy and share them with you, along with any recommendations.

If your results are negative (no abnormalities found), you should be all set until your next colonoscopy, usually 5-10 years later. If we discover any polyps or other suspicious tissue, we may remove a sample to perform a biopsy, or recommend a follow-up colonoscopy sooner than usual to monitor progress. If your doctor has concerns about the clarity of your colonoscopy video or if there are obstructions preventing full examination of your colon, you may be asked to schedule a follow-up exam to get more definite results.

What Are The Potential Costs For A Colonoscopy?

The Affordable Care Act requires that colonoscopies be covered under both private insurance and Medicare. Discuss coverage and potential costs with your insurance company.

What Are The Potential Risks For A Colonoscopy?

Serious risks associated with colonoscopy are few and unlikely. There is a chance you may have a negative reaction to the anesthesia administered during the exam. You may notice some blood in your stool immediately following your colonoscopy, particularly if tissue was removed during the procedure. This is probably no cause for alarm but ongoing or excessive bleeding should be reported to your physician immediately. There is also a low risk of a tear in the colorectal wall.

Are There Other Related Tests Or Treatments?

Medical Offices of Manhattan also provides endoscopies (gastroscopies), a similar diagnostic procedure, as well as screenings for other kinds of cancers.

Related Forms

Colonoscopy Prep
Anesthesia Consent Form
Endoscopy Consent Form
General Patient Authorization Form
Patient Request To Leave Office Without an Escort Form
Esophagogastroduodenoscopy/EGD Prep
Flexible Sigmoidoscopy/Infrared Coagulation Prep
PillCam Colon Prep

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Medical Offices of Manhattan is one of NYC's leading multi-specialty medical groups. Located in Midtown East, Upper East Side, Upper West Side, Medical Offices of Manhattan specializes in Primary Care, Cardiology, Dermatology, Endocrinology, Gastroenterology, and Podiatry. Medical Offices of Manhattan uses the most innovative methods... Learn More »