What will happen during the colonoscopy?

It's normal to be a bit nervous before a new procedure, even a routine one. But believe it or not, a colonoscopy is not as bad as you might think.

The entire procedure usually takes 20 to 60 minutes, but time will seem to pass quickly. That's because the doctor will sedate you and give you pain medication to help you relax. The medications are given to you through an intravenous, or IV, line in your arm. You'll soon begin to feel drowsy, and you may not even remember much of the procedure later.

The colonoscope will gently be inserted and passed through your rectum and colon. You might feel the urge to go to the bathroom at the beginning. Try to take deep breaths and allow the tension to leave your body. This will make it easier for the doctor to advance the scope.

Air is blown out of the scope to inflate the bowel and clear the way in front, so you may also experience a bit of cramping or a feeling of fullness. While the test is going on, an image of the inside of your rectum and colon is transmitted to a monitor. Your doctor looks for irritated patches of skin, signs of damage to the colon or polyps. If any of these are visible, your doctor may take tissue samples or remove the polyps. This process is usually completely painless.

All finished! Thanks to the sedation you've been given, the entire colonoscopy may seem to be over in the blink of an eye.

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