Published: May 16, 2007
Updated: Aug. 22, 2011
You must stop taking certain medicines up to 10 days before and begin preparing yourself for the colonoscopy two days before the test. Please read all the instructions ahead of time so you can be adequately prepared for this procedure.
If you have a language barrier or a communication issue, call 919-684-6437.
What is a colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is an examination of your large intestine (colon). A long flexible tube (colonoscope) will be inserted into your rectum and passed through your colon. Your colon will be examined in detail. Additional procedures may be performed such as taking tissue samples (biopsies) and removing polyps.
Where is this done?
Duke Gastroenterology performs colonoscopy at several locations. Please refer to the cover letter to verify the location of your appointment.
For questions regarding your appointment or preparation, please call 919-684-6437.
Do I need to have someone drive me home afterward?
Yes. If you come without an escort to the unit, the nurse will need the name and phone number of your escort to verify that they will meet you at the end of the procedure. You may not go home alone in a taxi, shuttle van, or bus, as these drivers will not be responsible for you. If you receive sedation, you may not drive until the next day.
If your escort does not accompany you to the unit, or your escort/driver cannot be contacted, your procedure will be rescheduled.
Do I need to do anything to get ready for this test?
Ten days before the procedure:
Seven days before the procedure:
Five days before the procedure:
Two days before the procedure:
Day of the procedure:
What happens during the procedure?
During the procedure you will lie on your side. You may be given a mild sedative as well as pain medication to keep you comfortable and help you to relax and tolerate any discomfort. The physician will insert a long, flexible, lighted tube (colonoscope) into the rectum and slowly guide it into the colon. The scope transmits an image of the inside of the colon, so the physician can carefully examine its lining. The scope also blows air into the colon, inflating it to increase visibility for the physician.
If anything abnormal is found, the physician can perform a removal procedure using small instruments passed through the scope (biopsy). The tissue is then sent to a lab for testing.
Is this test/procedure painful?
To ensure your comfort, IV sedation can be given for this exam (to make you relaxed). If you want sedation, you must have a responsible companion, family member, or friend, 18 years of age or older escort you the endoscopy suite, be available during your procedure, be present at the time of your discharge, drive you home, and stay with you for several hours after your procedure.
How long does it take?
The procedure itself takes 30 to 60 minutes, although you should plan on two to three hours for waiting, preparation and recovery. You must arrange for someone to drive you home afterward because of the sedatives.
What happens after the procedure?
Call your doctor if any of these things happen to you:
How will I get the results of this test?
Please contact the doctor who ordered your procedure to obtain your test results.
This article is intended as a resource for patients receiving their cancer care at Duke University Hospital or Duke Clinic. It is not intended to substitute for medical advice from your health care team. If your doctor’s instructions differ from the information in this article, please talk with your doctor before making any changes.