During a colonoscopy, a flexible tube as thick as a finger called a colonoscope is inserted into the anus and slowly advanced into the rectum and colon to examine the lining. You will lie on your side or back, and your doctor may administer a sedative to help you relax and better tolerate any discomfort.
A colonoscopy rarely causes much pain, though you might feel pressure, bloating or cramping during or after the procedure because of the air introduced into the colon during the examination. This should disappear quickly when you pass gas. You should be able to eat after the examination, but your doctor might restrict your diet and activities, especially after a polypectomy.
Although the procedure usually takes 15 minutes to an hour, you should plan on two to three hours for waiting, preparation and recovery. After the procedure, your physician will explain the results of the examination and when you might expect results of any biopsies performed.
If you have been given sedatives during the procedure, someone must drive you home and stay with you. Even if you feel alert after the procedure, your judgment and reflexes could be impaired for the rest of the day.