What is a Colonsocopy?
Colonoscopy is a test that takes pictures of your large intestine. The test is called a colonoscopy because colon means your large intestine and scopy means a scope (a tiny camera that looks around and takes pictures). The colon is very large and it has names for its different parts.
Why do I need to have a Colonoscopy?
The doctor needs to see inside your large intestine (colon) to see how it is working and to find out what they need to do to help you. An X-Ray cannot see inside the large intestine, so a colonoscopy has to be done.
What does a Colonoscopy look like?
A colonoscopy has a tiny video camera (scope) and a light at the end of a small very flexible (bendy) tube; there is also a computer and TV screen that is used. The light helps the doctor see in your colon. The video camera can take a video or pictures of inside your large intestine (colon). This will help the doctor to see what is happening inside your body. There is also a bed that is beside the computer where you will lie down.
What happens when I have a Colonoscopy?
A porter will come to bring you to the special room to have the colonoscopy. A nurse and gastroenterologist (a doctor who is the expert about intestines) will greet you and explain what will happen.
The nurse will give you a gown to wear, this looks like a backward housecoat, you may already be wearing one. The nurse will help you to get on the bed; she will also tell you to lie on your left side. This is the best way for you to lie down for the test. The nurse will put a blanket over you to keep you warm and make sure you are covered up. The nurse will also put a plastic clip onto your finger. This clip does not hurt and it glows red. This clip is called an Oximeter and it measures how much oxygen you have in your blood. You will also have a blood pressure cuff put on your arm to measure how fast or slow your blood is moving around your body. The blood pressure cuff will go on and give your arm a little squeeze and then off, relaxing it. This happens a few times during the test.
The doctor will put on hospital gloves. Then he will take the scope and he will place it gently into the opening in your bum (this is also called an anus). The scope goes into your bum because that is where the large intestine is; it ends at your bum.
While the doctor is looking in your large intestine, he will also be taking pictures of it. He may also take a tiny piece of the large intestine to look at it more closely, this is called a biopsy. It is important to remember to relax and lie still. Once the test is done, the scope will be removed.
Someone like your mom or dad can stay in the room with you during the test. The test can take about 45 minutes to complete. When it is over, you will rest for a little while and then you will be brought back to your room.
Click here to check out a colonoscopy booklet created by Windsor Regional Hospital
What will the Colonoscopy feel like?
The colonoscopy will feel uncomfortable when the scope first goes into your bum. You may feel pressure in your bum; you may feel that you have to go to the bathroom. Your stomach may also feel a little sore, like a stomach ache. All of these feelings are normal, this happens to everyone who has this test.
Preparing for the test
Your nurse will give you the information you need to help you get ready to have your colonoscopy. You will be told that you will not be able to eat or drink anything before the test. Your nurse will give you a special medicine that you will need to drink. This special drink will help to clean out your intestine. Your intestine is where your body stores the stuff that your body does not need anymore, this is called stool (or poop). Before you have the test, all your stool needs to be out of your intestine. This special drink helps you to go to the bathroom a lot so that all the stool gets out.
You may also be given a special medicine before the test that makes you feel sleepy and help you relax. This medicine goes into your IV. If you do not already have an IV, the nurse will give you one. The IV is a small straw that goes into the vein usually in your hand. This is the quickest way to get the sleepy medicine into your body. You will feel a pinch from the poke of the IV, and it may hurt a little. Remember the needle used to get the straw into your hand, comes out and is put into a special garbage. All that is in your hand is a tiny bendy straw, no needle (to learn more about IV?s, go to the ?What is that? section). When it is time for the test, remember to relax and take deep breaths.
If you have any questions about the test, always ask!
This content has been reviewed and approved by health care team members at McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton, Ontario. All content is for educational purposes only. For further information, please speak with your health care team.