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Colonoscopy is an important diagnostic and therapeutic procedure which can be used to evaluate and treat a number of conditions of the large bowel (colon) such as the diagnosis and treatment of GI bleeding and the evaluation of inflammatory bowel disease. One of the most important indications for colonoscopy is for the screening and prevention of colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer, or colon cancer, is the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States. Importantly, this cancer is largely preventable through routine screening of average-risk Americans at age 50, when the identification and removal of colon polyps can be accomplished. Higher-risk groups may be screened at an earlier age, designated by their treating physician. Colon polyps are the source of colorectal cancer and their removal will largely prevent their progression into colorectal cancer, making colon cancer a highly preventable disease. The procedure has been in practice since the 1970’s and is typically well tolerated, taking about 15-30 minutes to complete, during which time you will be completely sedated and will typically remember nothing of the procedure other than waking up in the recovery area. It is normal to experience some cramping and mild abdominal discomfort for a few hours after the tests.

Colonoscopy Preparation

You will receive separate instructions for your bowel preparation prior to examination. Bowel preparation (the thorough cleansing of the colon prior to the procedure) is very important for a safe and effective colonoscopy. Please read and understand the directions several days prior to the exam and follow them closely. Also, do not have anything by mouth, including fluids, lozenges, chewing gum, or even smoking after midnight if your procedure is scheduled prior to 10:00 a.m. or less than four hours prior to the exam if you are scheduled at 10:00 a.m. or later. If you take any heart, blood pressure or breathing medications, take them with a sip of water prior to the morning of the exam.

The Day of your Exam

YOU WILL NEED TO BRING A DRIVER WITH YOU TO YOUR EXAM APPOINTMENT. You MAY NOT walk, take a taxi, or any other form of public transportation. You will not be permitted to drive for 12 hours following your procedure as your judgment will be impaired due to the sedation. Please remember to fill out and bring the information sheet that was mailed to you. Please wear comfortable clothing, preferably short-sleeves. You should plan to be at the Hershey Endoscopy Center about 1-2 hours.

After the Exam

Do not expect to return to work until the next day, due to the effects of the sedation. Your physician will explain the results of your exam before you are discharged. Biopsy and polyp results may not be available for up to two weeks. Your referring physician will be sent a copy of your report. You will receive a copy of the report and written instructions which will include a phone number to call if you should have any problems or questions after you return home.