One day of inconvenience for a lifetime of wellness: What to expect with a colonoscopy
Visit your primary care physician at least annually. If you’re 45 or older, your primary care physician should recommend that you get a colonoscopy.
William H. Wismer, D.O., a board-certified gastroenterologist at Plaza 38 Gastroenterology and Corry Memorial Hospital Rural Health Clinic, outlines the steps below for what to expect with a colonoscopy.
The process: Getting a colonoscopy
- Get a referral from your primary care physician for a colonoscopy.
- Next, visit your gastroenterologist (in this case, me) to receive a consultation. We’ll go over your health history, family history, discuss if you’re on blood thinners, do a physical, or anything else to make sure there’s nothing there. We’ve found everything from renal artery stenosis, AAAs (abdominal aortic aneurysms), brain or new onset heart murmurs, heart disease, even a heart attack.
- Then I’ll evaluate you in the office. Plan to discuss your family history of colon cancer (how old were they? Did they have a ton of polyps? Were they rectally bleeding?), symptoms of blood in the rectum, a change in bowels, acute abdominal pains, family history of colon polyps, and anything else relevant.
- Fast from food. The prep is the inconvenient part. Tablet forms and liquids that stimulate the bowel are available now. You have to drink the liquids, but you can’t eat anything the day of your prep. This will clean out your system.
If you follow the directions, it should work brilliantly.
- Go to one of the surgery centers, hospital outpatient setting, whichever you have chosen.
- You’ll get another evaluation to confirm everything is still clear.
- I’ll come in to see you briefly, listen to your heart and lungs, and make sure your belly sounds OK.
- They’ll take you back for surgery, and an anesthesiologist will start the IV (intravenous) sedation. This is the worst part of the entire process that day, but it’s minimum.
- I perform the procedure.
- You’ll wake up and be taken out to the recovery area.
- Within 45 minutes, you’ll be ready to leave.
It’s a fairly simple day: You will go in, get the procedure, and you’re done.
- In two to three weeks after the procedure, you’ll visit my office for a follow-up appointment. It takes about that long if you have a polyp or a biopsy to be processed, read and evaluated, and for me to get the report back from the pathologist.
- If any issues are found, I’ll communicate that to you and let you know it doesn’t look normal. We’ll go through several different scenarios of what is going to happen. The process (ordering CAT Scans, extra bloodwork, extra imaging studies, contacting oncologists) will start right then and there. No time is wasted.
- We’ll determine how soon you have to return to my office based on guidelines, tissue type, number and size of polyps, and how they had to be removed.
Make sure to schedule an appointment with your primary care physician today to start the process for a colonoscopy. One day of inconvenience equals a lifetime of wellness.
For more information, see “Prevent colon cancer: Why and when you should get a colonoscopy.”