What to Expect
It’s understandable if you feel anxiety about facing a procedure; it may help to know that most people find the experience less uncomfortable than they anticipated. Knowing what to expect helps too. Here is information on some of our common procedures:
Most people find their colonoscopy to be straightforward and not at all uncomfortable. You’ll be instructed to consume a clear liquid diet the day before the exam, followed by a low-volume laxative preparation to empty the colon. Your exam will be performed using short-acting intravenous (IV) anesthesia, so you are asleep throughout the test. During the exam your doctor will use a colonoscope, a thin, flexible instrument that transmits a high-definition video image of the colon to a television screen.
To prepare for this procedure, you must clean your colon. This takes one or two days, depending on what your doctor recommends.
- Plan to stay home during your prep time, as you will need to use the bathroom often.
- Do not eat any solid food 24 hours before the exam.
- Avoid red liquids.
- Limit drinks to clear liquids such as water and broth.
- Take your prescribed laxative in full as explained by your doctor.
- Adjust your medications as indicated by your doctor.
Endoscopies are performed under anesthesia. Your doctor will perform the exam using an endoscope, a thin, flexible, lighted tube that gets passed through your mouth, into the esophagus and beyond. In addition to performing a visual exam, your doctor can obtain tissue samples (biopsies), remove polyps, control bleeding from ulcers or abnormal blood vessels, and dilate (stretch) narrowed areas (also called strictures). Upper endoscopy is an outpatient procedure generally lasting 10-12 minutes.
You will be asked not to eat anything for at least six hours prior to your procedure. You will be allowed to drink clear liquids until four hours before the procedure. You may rinse your mouth until the time of the procedure.
Day of the Procedure
If the procedure is performed in the morning, you should wait to take medication AFTER the procedure. If the procedure is performed in the afternoon, you may take most medications in the early morning, with a small amount of water.
Prior to the procedure, talk with your doctor about all medications you use. Aspirin products; arthritis medications; anticoagulants (blood thinners) such as Coumadin, Plavix, Persnatine, or Ticlid; insulin; vitamin E; ginkgo; and iron products are examples of medications you should discuss with your doctor before your endoscopy.
After your exam, your physician will explain your results. Most endoscopy patients go home the same day of their procedure. Contact your gastroenterologist if you have a fever, difficulty swallowing, chest or abdominal pain, or difficulty breathing after the procedure.
During its journey through your digestive tract, this innovative technology produces thousands of pictures that are transmitted to a recorder worn on a belt around your waist. Capsule endoscopy helps your gastroenterologist examine your small intestine, an area difficult to reach with conventional endoscopy procedures. Capsule endoscopy is most often used to determine the source of obscure gastrointestinal bleeding, but is also helpful in evaluating patients with inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, suspected cancer or hereditary polyp syndromes.
Following an overnight fast, you will swallow the capsule with water. You cannot eat anything for two hours, but are otherwise free to go about your daily activities. The capsule will pass through your digestive system unnoticed and can safely be flushed down the toilet. You’ll return to your doctor’s office the following day to have the images downloaded for later review.