By Danish Ahmed Blog Published on - 17 April - 2023

What to Expect During a Colonoscopy Procedure

A colonoscopy is a medical procedure used to examine the inside of the large intestine or colon. It is typically recommended for individuals who are at high risk of colon cancer or have symptoms such as rectal bleeding, abdominal pain or changes in bowel habits.

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During the colonoscopy procedure, a long, flexible tube called a colonoscope is inserted into the rectum and guided through the colon. The colonoscope has a camera at the end, which allows the doctor to view the inside of the colon on a video monitor. The doctor can also take tissue samples or remove small polyps (abnormal growths) for further examination.

Here is what you can expect during a colonoscopy procedure:

1. Preparation: Before the procedure Here are some additional details about the preparation process:

  • Diet: Several days before the procedure, you will need to avoid certain foods and drinks, such as nuts, seeds, popcorn, and raw fruits and vegetables. Your doctor may also recommend that you switch to a clear liquid diet, which can include water, tea, broth, clear juices, and sports drinks. It is important to follow these dietary restrictions carefully, as any leftover food or debris in the colon can make it more difficult for the doctor to visualize the colon lining.
  • Laxatives: To fully empty your colon, your doctor will likely recommend that you take a bowel preparation medication. This may involve drinking a large amount of a laxative solution or taking several tablets. The medication will cause you to have several bowel movements over the course of several hours, so it is important to stay close to a restroom during this time.
  • Antibiotics: Depending on your medical history and risk factors, your doctor may recommend that you take antibiotics before the procedure to prevent infection. Be sure to follow the instructions for taking the antibiotics carefully, and let your doctor know if you have any allergies or adverse reactions to medications.
  • Preparation tips: To make the preparation process more comfortable, you may want to wear loose, comfortable clothing and have plenty of clear fluids on hand. You may also want to use baby wipes or a gentle cleansing solution to avoid irritation during bowel movements.

2. Anesthesia: Anesthesia is an important aspect of a colonoscopy procedure, as it helps to minimize any discomfort or pain during the exam. Here are some additional details about the types of anesthesia used during a colonoscopy:

  • Sedation: Most colonoscopies are performed using conscious sedation, which involves the use of medications to help you relax and feel drowsy during the procedure. You will remain conscious and able to communicate with the doctor, but you may not remember much of the procedure afterwards. The sedative is typically administered through an intravenous (IV) line inserted into your arm.
  • General anesthesia: In some cases, such as if you have a medical condition that makes it difficult to stay still, your doctor may recommend general anesthesia, which involves complete unconsciousness during the procedure. This type of anesthesia is typically administered through an IV line or by breathing in a gas.

3. Positioning: You will lie on your side with your knees drawn up to your chest.

4. Insertion of the colonoscope: The doctor will insert the colonoscope into your rectum and slowly guide it through your colon.

5. Visual examination: The doctor will examine the inside of your colon using the camera at the end of the colonoscope. The doctor may also use air to inflate your colon to get a better view.

6. Biopsy or polyp removal: If the doctor sees any abnormal growths, they may take a tissue sample (biopsy) or remove the polyp for further examination.

7. Completion: Once the procedure is complete, the doctor will remove the colonoscope and you will be taken to a recovery area.

8. Post-procedure: You will need someone to drive you home after the procedure. You may experience some cramping or bloating, but this should go away within a few hours.

Overall, a colonoscopy is a safe and effective way to screen for colon cancer or diagnose gastrointestinal issues. It is important to follow your doctor's instructions for preparation and discuss any concerns or questions you may have before the procedure.

It is also important to note that while a colonoscopy is generally safe, there are some risks associated with the procedure. These risks can include bleeding, infection, and damage to the colon or rectum. However, these complications are rare and can usually be avoided with proper preparation and a skilled medical team.

It is recommended that individuals undergo a colonoscopy starting at age 50 or earlier if they are at higher risk for colon cancer. The frequency of subsequent colonoscopies will depend on the individual's risk factors and any abnormalities found during the initial procedure.

In conclusion, a colonoscopy is an important screening tool for detecting colon cancer and other gastrointestinal issues. While the thought of the procedure may be intimidating, the benefits of early detection and treatment far outweigh any temporary discomfort or inconvenience. If you have concerns about a colonoscopy, speak with your doctor to address any questions or fears you may have.


It is recommended that individuals undergo a colonoscopy starting at age 50, or earlier if they are at higher risk for colon cancer. People with a family history of colon cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, or certain genetic conditions may need to begin screening at an earlier age.
Colonoscopy is considered the gold standard for colon cancer screening, as it allows for direct visualization of the colon and the ability to remove any precancerous polyps. Other types of screening, such as stool-based tests, may be less invasive but are not as accurate.
Most people report little to no pain during the procedure, as sedatives and pain medications are used to minimize any discomfort. Some people may experience mild cramping or bloating afterwards, but this typically resolves quickly.
The procedure itself usually takes 30-60 minutes, although the preparation and recovery periods can add several hours. It is recommended that you plan to take the entire day off from work or other obligations to allow for rest and recovery.
If polyps are found during the colonoscopy, they may be removed or biopsied for further evaluation. If cancerous cells are found, treatment options will be discussed with the patient and their medical team. Regular follow-up colonoscopies may be recommended to monitor for any new polyps or changes in the colon.