A colonoscopy is most often used to look for early signs of cancer in the colon and rectum. It allows our Charleston Gastroenterology Center physicians to look inside the entire large intestine for things such as inflamed tissue, abnormal growths, (polyps) and ulcers. The colonoscopy procedure can also spot causes of unexplained changes in bowel habits or to evaluate symptoms like abdominal pain, rectal bleeding and weight loss.

If anything unusual is found, like a polyp or inflamed tissue, the physician can remove a piece of it using instruments inserted into the scope and send that piece of tissue to the lab for testing. The procedure usually takes 30 to 60 minutes and a sedative and pain medicine is administered to help keep you comfortable. Most people don’t even remember experiencing the entire procedure. Because you will be sedated, you will need someone to drive you home after the colonoscopy is complete.

You may feel some cramping or the sensation of having gas after the procedure, but is usually stops within an hour. An empty stomach allows for the best examination, so specific instructions will be provided to you prior to the procedure. Your doctor will also prescribe a prep kit, which is very important in the success of the procedure. Be sure to follow your instructions to the letter. The entire procedure from the time you arrive should take 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

Preparing for the Procedure

Your Charleston Gastroenterology Center nurse or doctor will provide you with preparation instructions before the examination.

What to Expect

Since you will be under sedation during the procedure, you will need someone who can drive you home! Next you’ll be rolled in your bed to the procedure room where the doctor will come in to talk with you. To make you as comfortable as possible, some medicine will be administered and the procedure will begin. Procedures usually last around 30 minutes. Upon completion, we will roll you into a recovery area. After you are completely awake, the nurse will help you get dressed and the doctor will come out to speak to you and your driver. A report of your procedure will be sent to your primary care physician by your Charleston Gastroenterology Center doctor.


Even though the visit should take only one to two hours, you need to be prepared to take the day off from work, mainly because of the medications used during your procedure.