What to Expect During a Colonoscopy

Calendar date for colonoscopy marked

While a colonoscopy may not be the most pleasant health screening you’ll ever have, it is one of the best tools to diagnose colorectal cancer. Your doctor can remove polyps, if you have any, during the same procedure. Here’s what you can expect.


You’ll take laxatives the night before your colonoscopy. While the prep may be uncomfortable, be sure to follow the instructions so that the procedure is a success.

Also, arrange for a family member or friend to give you a ride home after the test because you won’t be able to drive for 24 hours.


Gastroenterologists perform colonoscopies in the CRH Endoscopy Center.

Colonoscopies are done under conscious sedation. This means you’ll receive a pain reliever and a sedative beforehand. You’ll be able to communicate during the colonoscopy, but the medicine keeps you relaxed and reduces pain and discomfort. You may also not remember everything even though you are not completely asleep.

The procedure takes about 30 to 60 minutes. You’ll lie on your side on a table, and your doctor will insert a colonoscope into your rectum and guide it into your colon. The colonoscope has a camera that sends a video of your bowel to a monitor.

If your doctor finds any polyps during the procedure, he or she may remove them and send them to a lab for testing. If your doctor sees any abnormalities, he or she may remove small pieces of tissue and send them to a pathologist for examination.


You may experience abdominal cramping or bloating for about an hour after the procedure. If your doctor performed a biopsy, you may have some light bleeding. Follow all your doctor’s instructions on how to care for yourself after having a colonoscopy. You should feel normal by the next day.


Your doctor will share the results with you after your colonoscopy. If you had a biopsy, it may take at least a few days to receive the results. If everything looks good, you will likely not need another colonoscopy for 10 years.

If you are 50 or older, schedule your screening colonoscopy with us online.

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