A colonoscopy is a medical procedure allowing the doctor to evaluate the condition of the inner lining of the large intestine through a colonoscope.
How is a colonoscopy performed?
At the beginning of the examination, the patient must lie on the left side with slightly angled legs. Before the colonoscopy can begin, the anal region must be inspected and a rectal examination performed to detect any changes (such as scars or injuries) that could affect the course of the examination.
The type and depth of sedation and individual risk factors are taken into account.
After sedation, the endoscope is then inserted into the anus and advanced throughout the entire intestine, ideally until the last part of the small intestine is reached.
In order to ensure optimal vision, the intestine must be blown up with some air, so that the mucous membrane unfolds itself.
The endoscope offers the possibility to introduce surgical instruments, thus performing an biopsy. Also, any polyps found can be removed directly.
On average, a complete colonoscopy takes about 30 minutes.
The patient is clinically monitored throughout the examination. The heart rate and the oxygen saturation in the blood is observed, too.
What are the complications?
Colonoscopies are routine examinations and complications rare.
Complications of the cardiovascular system, such as blood pressure drop or cardiac arrhythmia, infections, bleeding or perforation of the intestine may occur.
In the case of incomplete emptying of the intestine, it is not possible for the examiner to have sufficient vision and the colonoscopy can not be performed completely.
The risk for the occurrence of complications must be assessed individually and is strongly dependent on the general condition of the patient, the age and any pre-existing conditions.
What does the preparation look like?
It is important that the patient’s bowel is completely emptied before the examination.
3 days or even better 5 days before the procedure, foods with fine particles like grains or seeds and hard to digest foods like legumes or fatty meat should be banned from the meal plan.
The day before the procedure only light foods like sauteed or cooked vegetables and fruits(without seeds!), eggs white flour and foods made out of it should be eaten.
Approximately 24 hours before the examination, a laxative liquid is drunk, while solid food isn’t allowed to be eaten at the same time.
Because of the large amount of drinks (about 4 litres) and the salty taste of the liquid, the preparation is often considered unpleasant.
Different preparations are available, which vary somewhat in terms of taste as well as the quantity and the amount of drinking.
As for me, I had to drink a small 20-30 ml bottle of a liquid tasting very bitter at first at noon. Then starting at 4 pm drink at least one litre of water or tea with the laxative powder dissolved in it every hour.
I had 4 packets I needed to drink in a time frame of 6 hours to ensure complete emptying of the colon.
After about 2 hours, the whole emptying process started and I soon barricaded myself into the bathroom only leaving to get another mixture prepared.
You’re good to go if the remains that come out of you are absolutely liquid and at least look like chamomile tea.
How does the treatment feel?
Since I was sedated and slept through the whole thing, I can’t say a lot about the procedure itself.
But the aftereffects were very similar to the gastroscopy. An overall feeling of sleepiness and hunger. Because the colon is inflated, it is common to experience bloating or gassiness, but for me, it was less prominent in comparison to the gastroscopy.
I think the most important thing is to slowly starting including foods like after a fast, breaking the emptiness with fruit and then bland foods and then the rest. After the amount of laxatives ingested, the intestines are quite sensible, so keep that in mind!
The preparation is far worse than the procedure itself, especially while already having an inflamed stomach.
I didn’t have any complications and my colonoscopy also only lasted 15 minutes, because I didn’t have any lesions or inflamed parts.
This means, I can surely say, I at least don’t have these conditions: celiac disease, morbus whipple, crohn’s disease, colitis ulcerosa or colon cancer.
But, my microbiome wasn’t happy, so taking probiotics and prebiotics afterwards is a MUST!
Are you having a colonoscopy soon? I hope I could give you a quick overview and calm your nerves.
*This post is based on research and personal experience. All products (if any mentioned) are bought and tried by myself if not written otherwise.