Colonoscopy tests are performed on patients for any number of reasons, mainly to determine if there is any presence of colon polyps, blockages, or colon cancer. After the age of 50, people should have one performed at least every ten years as a preventative measure and to check for any problems, since the risk of colon cancer increases after this age. If you're scheduled to have a colonoscopy, there are several things you should be aware of before the test date arrives.


Before the technician can perform the colonoscopy, your bowels must be completely emptied in order for them to get the correct readings inside your colon. Your doctor should give you a sheet of instructions on how to properly prepare. You may be asked to stop taking certain medications a day or two before the test, such as blood thinners. You'll also be given a special liquid to drink that will help clear your bowels and has a laxative effect. The liquid concoction may be an unpleasant experience, but it is necessary in order for the doctor to get accurate readings. All obstructions must be cleared in order for them to see everything clearly. 

What to Expect

On the day of your colonoscopy, you'll be hooked up to a monitoring machine to check your heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure. You will most likely be given an intravenous medication that will either put you completely to sleep or numb you locally. The physician will ask you to lay on your side or back, and a small camera known as a colonoscope will be slowly inserted. The doctor will be able to view the contents of your colon on a screen and will carefully check for any signs of cancer or polyps. Once complete, you may experience slight feelings of bloating or cramping, but the pain and discomfort should be minimal and should subside within a day or two.

If There Are Problems

If your test comes back showing any concerns, the doctor should tell you immediately. You may need to be scheduled to have polyps removed depending on their size and quantity. The polyps will be tested to determine if they are cancerous. While most polyps are not cancerous, removing them is a good way to prevent colon cancer from forming. There are little risks associated with getting a colonoscopy, but the most common are adverse reactions to medication or prolonged discomfort. For more information, talk to a professional like Northwest Gastroenterology Associates.