A patient's colonoscopy begins with asking the patient to change into a hospital gown, according to Mayo Clinic. Then, the patient is instructed to lay down on the exam table with her knees drawn into her chest.
During the procedure, sedation is usually performed, states Mayo Clinic. This can be given either as a pill or introduced via IV. After the patient is in the correct position and sedation is given, the doctor inserts an imaging device called a colonoscope into the patient's rectum. The scope is long enough to examine the entire colon and contains a light and a tube, which doctors use to feed air into the colon. The air inflates the colon, giving the doctors a better view of the organ. When the scope or air is introduced or removed, the patient may feel abdominal cramping or the urge to have a bowel movement.
The doctor can also use the tube of the colonoscope to introduce different tools as she sees fit, states Mayo Clinic. More commonly, these instruments are used to take samples, but they are also used to remove polyps or other abnormal tissues. After the exam, it can take upward of one hour to recover from the sedative. A patient needs to have a person drive her home or make other travel plans, as usually, patients have to take the rest of the day off after the exam.