What is a Colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is a procedure in which your doctor can see inside the colon or large intestine using a camera inserted through the anus. The procedure is used to look for changes in the colon. It can be used as a screening test for colorectal cancer and can help to prevent colorectal cancer through the removal of precancerous colon polyps.

Colonoscopy is also a diagnostic test to look for the underlying cause of GI symptoms, such as abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, anemia, or diarrhea. A colonoscopy can help diagnose other colon diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease, ulcers, diverticulosis, and other autoimmune diseases. A doctor may recommend repeating colonoscopies in the future to follow up on intestinal disease or to make sure that polyps or tumors were removed entirely.

Tips for Preparing for Your Colonoscopy

Your doctor will tell you what to do to prepare for your colonoscopy. There are several preparation regimens to completely cleanse your colon and rectum so the doctor can clearly see the lining of the colon. Here is what you can expect:

  • For the few days leading up to your colonoscopy, you will be modifying your diet. This will involve restricting high-residue/high-fiber foods such as seeds, nuts, and corn, as well as raw fruits and vegetables.
  • A week head of the procedure, make sure you have your bowel prep, clear liquids, wet wipes and an adult escort prepared to take you home from the procedure. The adult escort does not need to stay the entire procedure. If you do not have a friend or family member who can do this, we can connect you with a service that can help.
  • When you begin the bowel preparation, you will restrict your diet to clear liquids only. Clear liquids include white grape juice, non-red or non-orange sports drinks, clear chicken broth, and ginger ale. Get these fluids ahead of time.
  • The evening before and on the morning of the colonoscopy, you will drink a laxative solution to flush all the stool out of your colon.
    • If you become nauseated as you consume the preparation, it is okay to slow down.
    • Refrigerating the preparation solution and drinking through a straw may help if you do not like its taste.
    • Stay close to your bathroom as you can expect to make frequent visits as you clear your bowels. Be sure to have enough toilet paper on hand. You should also have wet wipes and barrier cream to prevent chaffing. The preparation process will likely take several hours.

What to Expect During a Colonoscopy

On the day of the colonoscopy, you will spend about 3-4 hours with us. When you arrive, you will change into a hospital gown, have an IV placed in your arm, and meet the team of doctors and nurses. During the colonoscopy, you will be sedated using an intravenous anesthetic, such as propofol. This ensures that you have no discomfort during the procedure. Many people describe it as the ”best nap of their life.” You will be asleep during the entire procedure and gently awakened when it is over. You will recover from the procedure for about an hour before going home.

Your doctor will let you know the initial findings of your colonoscopy on the day of the procedure. It can take 1-2 weeks to get the results of any biopsies taken of polyps removed. 

Why Choose Us

NewYork-Presbyterian offers colonoscopies at a number of convenient locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Westchester, and the Hudson Valley, so you can arrange to get the test close to where you live. If screening results show you need further testing, we offer all of the care you need, provided by multidisciplinary teams of colorectal cancer experts. Call us today to make an appointment.

Colonoscopy Preparation

Doctors at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, offer advice on how to prepare for a colonoscopy and what to expect during the screening.

Our Locations

Colonoscopies are offered at:

NewYork-Presbyterian Columbia University Irving Medical Center

NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center

NewYork-Presbyterian David H. Koch Center

NewYork-Presbyterian Westchester (formerly Lawrence Hospital)

NewYork-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital

NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital

NewYork-Presbyterian Medical Group Hudson Valley

Digestive Health Center

914-739-2400 Cortlandt Manor