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Preparation for Procedure

Welcome and thank you for choosing Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center for your colonoscopy/sigmoidoscopy. Our physicians and nurses are dedicated to providing highly skilled and compassionate care for you and your family. We understand that you may be apprehensive about your procedure. We hope the following information will be helpful to you as you prepare for your procedure, the day of your procedure and during your recovery.

The Gastroenterology Lab is on the 4th floor of Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center’s Main Building. Take the elevator in the M Building to the 4th floor.

We want to make your experience with us as comfortable as possible. If you have any questions or concerns that are not answered here, please do not hesitate to call your physician or the GI Lab at (814) 534-9122 between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.

Click here to view a list of all GI Lab locations within the Conemaugh Health System

Click here to view a video explanation of a colonoscopy procedure and a tour of the GI Lab

Before Your Procedure

Your gastroenterologist, primary care physician or other designated physician will do a history and physical examination prior to your procedure.

Your physician may order laboratory tests, x-rays or EKG’s. These tests should be done 3 to 7 days prior to your procedure date. You may have repeat labs drawn the day of your procedure depending on your previous results or the medications you are currently taking.

The physician will specify when to stop taking certain medications prior to the procedure. Do not take any medications the day of the procedure unless instructed to take it by the physician or nurse.

If you are pregnant or think you might be, or if you are breast-feeding, tell the doctor and technologist before your test.

If you have questions about your insurance coverage or pre-certification, call your insurance company. If you are not covered by insurance, please make arrangements for payment by calling (814) 534-9000 and ask for the Business Office. No financial arrangements are made on the day of the procedure.

If you develop an abnormal temperature or a communicable disease prior to your procedure please call your physician. It may be necessary to reschedule your procedure for a time when you are feeling better.

The Day Before Your Procedure

The afternoon prior to your procedure, we will call you, and we will let you now what time to arrive at the hospital to prepare for your procedure. Your physician will specify what prep you should use prior to your procedure. This generally includes dietary modifications. If you can't remember when you are scheduled or the preparation involved please call your physician or the GI Lab at (814) 534-9122 between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. weekdays.

A colon cleansing prep will be used for any procedures involving the colon. You can receive these medications from the pharmacy or over the counter.

There are several preparations available. Your physician will determine which special preparation you need to follow. You may be instructed to use one of the following preparations or an alternative. If you develop any problems such as nausea or vomiting please contact the physician that ordered the prep.

You may be prescribed a one day or a two day prep depending on your past medical history. Please follow your physician's instructions regarding your prep. You will be on a clear liquid diet which includes clear broth, water, plain gelatin, fruit juices without pulp, like apple juice, and tea or coffee without cream. Please avoid anything with a red or purple coloring.

If you don't have the medication or can't remember what is included in your prep call your physician at least 2 days prior to your exam. If you still have a return of stool after completing your bowel cleansing prep, please call your gastroenterologist.

Day of the Procedure

Do not eat any solid foods on the day prior to the procedure. You may have only clear liquids the entire day prior to your procedure. These include clear broth, water, plain jello, fruit juices without pulp like apple juice, and tea or coffee without cream. Please avoid anything with a red or purple coloring. No alcoholic beverages are permitted.

After midnight you are not permitted to have anything by mouth. No liquids, gum, tobacco, or lozenges are permitted.

Do not smoke for 12 hours prior to your procedure. Eating, drinking or smoking prior to surgery can cause a delay or cancellation of your procedure.

You may be instructed to take certain medications by your physician the morning of the procedure. You may take them with a sip of water. These may include Cardiac, blood pressure, seizure, or respiratory  inhalation medications. Please be sure your physician is aware of all of your medications. Do not take any medications the day of the procedure unless instructed to take it by the physician or nurse. Never take blood thinners, insulin or diabetic medications unless instructed to by the physician.

Wear loose fitting, clean, comfortable clothing and flat shoes.
Wear your glasses instead of contact lenses
Do not wear make up, nail polish, hairspray or jewelry
Do not bring money, jewelry or valuables with you

Children under 18 years of age or incapacitated adults must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

Please bring all insurance forms / cards with you.

You may be accompanied by one adult family member or friend. Children should not accompany adults having any procedures. Because you are not permitted to drive after your procedure, an adult must accompany you to take you home. A responsible adult should stay with you the night following your procedure. Children scheduled for a procedure should be accompanied by two adults, one to assist the child and one to drive home.

When you arrive at the hospital on the day of your procedure report directly to the 4th floor M building and sign in at desk. You will be called to your room. You will be given a hospital gown to wear. You will be asked to remove dentures, hairpieces or hair pins, artificial limbs and contact lenses. You will be asked to remove nail polish and makeup if you didn’t already do it at home. Any jewelry that you wear to the hospital such as a wedding band must be given to your family member or friend. Please remember to remove all body piercings.

You will be interviewed by a registered nurse who will do a nursing assessment, document your historical information and verify all medications (both prescribed by a physician and over the counter) that you are taking and the last time you took each of your medications. Please bring a list of all your medications, including over the counter medication, herbs, vitamins and supplements. Include the name, dose and how often you are taking each item. You will have an Intravenous (IV) line inserted and be given IV fluids.

If you are pregnant or think you might be, or if you are breast-feeding, tell the doctor and technologist before your test.

Healthcare professionals will be available in this area to make you comfortable and to answer your questions. The staff may ask you the same questions several times. They will ask your name, what procedure you are having done, your medications and your allergies. By repeating our questions, we are verifying and re-verifying very important information to ensure that your time with us is as safe as possible. This is a double check system to ensure your safety which is our number one priority.

You will be seen by your physician who will ask you to sign a consent form. This legally permits your physician to perform your procedure.

During the Procedure

You will be taken to procedure room on the same cart and positioned on your left side for either the colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy. You will draw your knees up to your chest.

You will be attached to a cardiac monitor and your blood pressure will be taken. You may have an oxygen mask or oxygen prongs in your nose. The people around you in the room will be preparing for your procedure. The registered nurse will always be in the room with you, and staff will stay by your side and will explain everything that is happening.

You will be given moderate, twilight sedation and/or pain medication through the IV line to relax you and keep you comfortable. You may either be drowsy or completely asleep. Many patients do not remember having the colonoscopy. You will be continually monitored and made as comfortable as possible.

The test will be performed by the physician. A rectal exam is done to check for any anal or rectal problems. The rectum is lubricated. The gastroenterologist then inserts a long, flexible lighted tube called a colonoscope into the anus. This tube is four foot long and about the width of a finger. A small camera is mounted on the scope and transmits an image to a computer screen. The scope is slowly guided through the rectum into the colon as the physician carefully examines the intestinal lining.

If you are awake you may feel like you have to have a bowel movement. Air is pumped into the colon to give the physician a better view. This may cause you to feel some cramping or gas pains. It is okay to pass gas during the procedure. You can also reduce discomfort by taking slow, deep breaths. This will also help relax your abdominal muscles.

Once the scope reaches the opening of the small intestine it is slowly withdrawn. The physician carefully examines the lining of the intestine again.

Tiny tools can be passed through the scope to perform a variety of functions. Suction can be used to remove fluid or stool. The doctor can remove growths, called polyps with electorcautery snares. Abnormal tissue samples can be taken with biopsy forceps. Photographs may be taken. If any bleeding occurs it is treated with an electrical probe to cauterize the area or special medication passed through the scope. This is generally a painless procedure. The polyps or tissue is then sent to a pathology lab to be tested for signs of cancer.

The procedure takes 30 to 60 minutes or longer.

The sigmoidoscopy is slightly different. The prep may be slightly different as only the lower part of the colon needs to be cleansed. You may be instructed to use enemas or laxatives. Please make sure you follow the physician’s instructions. A sigmoidscope is used. It is about two foot long and the width of your little finger. This shorter thin flexible tube is only passed through the anus to the lower part of the colon called the sigmoid colon. The procedure takes about 20 minutes.

After Your Procedure

After your procedure you will be taken to the recovery area. The physician will explain the results of the test to your family. During this time you will awaken from sedation.The nurse will continue to monitor your vital signs; blood pressure, pulse, temperature, and your breathing.

When you wake up you may feel some cramping or bloating from the air that was introduced through the scope. This occurs more frequently during the first hour after the procedure. You may pass a lot of gas. The sedative may take a couple hours to completely wear off. You may not feel any discomfort or remember the procedure. You will be given something to drink and may resume your regular diet when you return home. Try to avoid anything with a red or purple color for a few days.

After you are recovered from the sedation, your vital signs (blood pressure, pulse, respiration and temperature) are stable and you are comfortable, your IV will be removed. You will be seen by your physician, and given discharge instructions. In order to be discharged from the GI Lab you must have a driver because of the sedation you received.

Your time in the GI Lab will vary depending on the procedure you had done, how well you are doing and how comfortable you are. It will be approx 2.5 hours.

You should notify your physician immediately if you develop any of these rare side effects:
• Fever of 100.4°F or greater
• Severe abdominal pain
• Bloody bowel movements
• Dizziness
• Weakness


Thank-you for allowing us to care for you during your GI Lab procedure.

Reviewed 8/2012