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A colonoscopy saved Cindy's life. Watch her story.

A colonoscopy examines the large intestine for inflammation, bleeding, ulcers or abnormal growths, such as polyps or cancer. The doctor uses a colonoscope: a small, lighted camera inside a soft, flexible tube. The procedure usually lasts from 30 minutes to an hour.  

The procedure can:

  • Detect and treat colon cancer or colon polyps
  • Take tissue samples for testing
  • Stop intestinal bleeding
  • Monitor inflammatory bowel disease treatment

Colonoscopy Preparation

Your doctor will provide you specific instructions. Patient instructions are available in the links on the right (scroll down for those links if you are on a mobile device). If you have questions, call 434.243.3090.

On the day of the procedure:

  • Wear comfortable clothing.
  • Arrange for a ride home after the procedure.

Emptying the Colon

Your colon must be completely clean before the procedure. Any stool left in the colon will block the view. This preparation may start several days before the procedure and may include any of the following cleansing methods:

  • Enemas 
  • Laxatives 
  • Oral liquids

The entire day before your procedure:

  • Do not eat any solid foods. This includes milk or cream in your coffee.
  • Drink only clear liquids such as water, coffee without cream, ginger ale, apple juice and Gatorade (not red Gatorade).
  • You may have Jello or popsicles (not red).
  • Do not drink alcohol.
  • If you have diabetes, ask your doctor if you need to adjust your insulin dose.

The Colonoscopy Procedure

You will lie on your left side, knees drawn up toward your chest. The doctor will insert the colonoscope through your rectum, inject air, then gently pass the scope through your colon.

The doctor will then:

  • Examine the lining of the colon 
  • Remove tissue samples or polyps, if necessary



Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Your Experience

During the procedure, you may feel:

  • Discomfort
  • Cramping
  • Muscle spasms
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • The urge to move your bowels

Tell the doctor if you feel any severe pain.

After the Procedure

You will be given detailed instructions about what to expect and how to take care of yourself. 


Call 434.243.3090

Content was created using EBSCO's Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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Questions? Call 434.243.3090