What is a Colonoscopy?

Colonoscopy is a procedure to directly examine the inside of your colon. This is done through the rectum with a long flexible instrument with a light on the end. The examination may be performed for a variety of reasons.

Proper preparation of the colon is extremely important. If stool remains in the bowel, an abnormality may be missed or the test may have to be repeated. The instructions for preparation are enclosed.

Medications will be given at the time of the examination to relax you and minimize any discomfort. Because these medications may make you sleepy for several hours, you should arrange to have someone help you with transportation home.

The examination is carried out with you lying on your side. A nurse will be present with you and the doctor. The colonoscope is inserted through the anus and passed into the colon. Then it is slowly withdrawn as the inside of the bowel is carefully examined. It is necessary to instill some air during the examination. This may cause a feeling of abdominal fullness. Some cramping may develop as the instrument passes around the curves of the colon. This usually lasts for a few seconds only.

The procedure may take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour; if polyps are removed, it may take longer. After the examination is completed, you may rest in the office until the effects of the medication have subsided (30 minutes to an hour).

If polyps are found, they may be removed at the same time by placing a wire loop (snare) around the base of the polyp and passing an electric current through the wire. You will not feel this current. The polyp can then usually be retrieved and microscopically examined by a pathologist.

Some risks are associated with this procedure. There is a small risk of perforating the colon or causing excessive bleeding after biopsy or removal of a polyp. These are extremely rare occurrences which may require further surgery to correct the problem. Passage of a small amount of blood may occur after the procedure but is not cause for alarm.

(How to prepare yourself for your colonoscopy)

Purchase 4 (Four) Dulcolax Tablets, 1 (one) 238 gram bottle of Miralax and a 64 oz bottle of Gatorade or Juice (any color BUT RED). NO PRESCRIPTIONS NEEDED.

The Day Before Your Colonoscopy:

  • Have a light breakfast (no later than 10am)
  • Drink “clear liquids” ONLY for lunch and dinner. No solid food until after your exam
  • 2:00 PM: Take the 4 Dulcolax tablets with a glass of water
  • 4:00-6:00PM: Mix the entire 238 gram bottle of Miralax into the 64 oz of Gatorade or juice
    (any color BUT RED). Shake well to dissolve. Drink the ENTIRE 64oz bottle of Gatorade until the solution is completely gone (about one eight ounce glass every 15 minutes).
  • You can drink water after the solution is finished BUT:

Do not have ANYTHING else to eat or drink (including water) after midnight and until after the colonoscopy. (You may take your medications with a sip of water the morning of the exam)

The Day of Your Colonoscopy

You MUST have someone escort you home at the completion of your procedure: you CANNOT drive yourself home.


  • No aspirin, Aleve, Motrin, Ibuprofen, etc. for 10 days prior to your colonoscopy. If prescribed by
    your own physician, contact your doctor regarding alternative medication.
  • If you are a diabetic on insulin or other diabetic medications, contact your medical doctor
    regarding any change in dosage required.
  • Please check with our nurse regarding your prescribed medications
  • No peas, beans, corn, nuts, lettuce, tomatoes or sesame seeds or fruits and vegetables
    with peels for 3 days prior to examination. Fruits & vegetables with peels may be eaten if peeled.
  • You NEED to have someone escort you home at the completion of your procedure.

You CANNOT drive yourself home upon completion of your procedure.

Meet the specialists
Fadi F. Attiyeh, MD, FACS, FASCRS
Surgical Oncology/ Hepatobiliary Surgery
Professor of Surgery, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
(212) 307-1144
Kathryn Baxter, NP
Nurse Practitioner and Certified Wound, Ostomy & Continence Nurse
Nipa D. Gandhi, MD
Assistant Professor of Surgery, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
(212) 523-7404
Lester Gottesman, MD
Colorectal Surgery
(212) 675-2997
Richard L. Whelan, MD, FACS, FASCRS
Chief of Division, Colorectal Surgery and Surgical Oncology
Professor of Surgery, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
(212) 523-8172

Richard L. Whelan,

Minimally Invasive Colorectal Resection to Treat Colon Cancer
- April 27, 2010