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What is a Colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is a visual procedure that looks inside the rectum and colon for polyps, abnormal areas, or cancer. A colonoscope (a thin, lighted tube) is inserted through the rectum into the colon. Polyps or tissue samples may be taken for biopsy. You will receive sedation, and are not awake, during this procedure.

Why it's Recommended

The purpose of a colonoscopy is trifold - diagnostic, preventative and interventional. A colonoscopy gets to the bottom of troublesome gastrointestinal symptoms, screens for diseases of the colon and removes precancerous lesions. If necessary, small biopsies may be taken and sent to pathology. These procedures:

When to Talk to Your Doctor

Men and women of “average risk,” who do not have any family history of cancer, should get periodic screening tests, such as a colonoscopy to detect any abnormalities. You should talk to your primary care doctor about scheduling a colonoscopy if you meet the following criteria:

*Due to recent changes in screening recommendations, please consult your insurance provider to confirm coverage if you are under the age of 50.

If you experience any of the following symptoms, Memorial Hermann recommends visiting a doctor to find the cause and receive treatment, if necessary:

How to Prepare

Since colonoscopies are visual in nature, it's essential that patients comply with pre-procedure prep. This involves a liquid diet the day before the test, followed by a prescription laxative and/or bowel cleanse.

Frequently Asked Questions

What to Expect

Upon registration, you will be taken to a pre-op bay, where a nurse will take your vital signs and start an intravenous line. In the procedure room, you will be positioned comfortably on your left side. You will be administered a sedative or light anesthetic. An endoscope is then inserted through the anus. The physician maneuvers the endoscope through the twists and turns of the colon. The procedure usually takes less than 30 minutes.

What Happens Next

Upon awaking in a recovery bay, you won't have any recollection of the procedure and might feel a little 'foggy' from the sedation/anesthesia. Since the procedure often requires the doctor to inflate the colon with air, you may experience mild stomach cramps and the need to pass gas.

It's mandatory that a companion be available to drive you home. Preliminary results may be discussed, and if necessary, a follow-up appointment with any physician on Memorial Herman's multi-disciplinary team may be scheduled.

New Realities, Unwavering Care

Your health and safety are always our main priority. As healthcare processes change and our community begins to adapt to a new normal, we want to let you know about the additional safeguards we are taking at Memorial Hermann to make your visit to one of our facilities as safe as possible.

In addition, we have implemented Safe Wait™, a new measure that enforces social distancing in our waiting areas. Safe Wait™ also includes staggering scheduled appointments and, when necessary, asking our patients to wait in their vehicles for their appointments.

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If you need more immediate assistance, please call us at (713) 222-2273.

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