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Understanding Colonoscopy

What is a Colonoscopy?

Colonoscopy is the gold standard for detecting colorectal cancer. This simple procedure is performed by a gastroenterologist, who inserts a flexible scope into the rectum and colon to search for abnormal growths (polyps). If found, the polyps are removed and sent for analysis. If a mass compatible with cancer is found, it is biopsied and the patient is referred to a surgeon for treatment. It’s natural to feel embarrassed or anxious about the prospect of having a colonoscopy and to have concerns about any possible discomfort during the procedure. Colonoscopies are completely private and the anesthesia or sedation will help relax you and assist in making you completely comfortable. Afterwards, most patients say the worry was far worse than the prep or the procedure.

Colonoscopy Preparation

You need to make arrangements in advance for a ride home after your colonoscopy due to any possible lingering effects of the anesthesia or sedation. The day before your colonoscopy you will prepare for the procedure in the privacy of your own home. Complete cleansing of the colon ensures optimal visibility during the procedure.

  • Per your doctor’s instructions, take laxative prep medication (typically just two tablets and two small bottles of liquid)
  • Adhere to a liquid diet

Your Colonoscopy

The total time you will be in the Center is approximately two hours.

  • Arrive one hour prior to your appointment
  • Go to Gastrointestinal Endoscopy Center / GI Unit (Parking B, Zone B, 2nd Floor - Suite 206 of 1635 N. George Mason Drive) to check-in
  • You are escorted to a pre-op room where a nurse conducts the admission process
  • You are then escorted to the procedure room for your colonoscopy
  • Procedure takes less than 30 minutes

After Your Colonoscopy

  • Your vitals are monitored until you are awake and alert
  • The gastroenterologist explains what was found during your procedure
  • A nurse reviews your discharge instructions
  • You can go home when your vitals are stable, you’re awake and alert, and your ride has arrived
  • You may feel a little tired afterward and rest at home will help

1701 N. George Mason Drive | Arlington, VA 22205-3698 | tel 703.558.5000
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