Colonoscopy FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions About Colonoscopy

Do I need to have the preparation (prep) and take laxatives?

 Yes, you must do a preparation that involves drinking liquid that acts like laxatives to clean out the colon and rectum so the tube can examine the entire colon.

Is the tube inserted in the rectum painful?

Before the colonoscopy begins you will be given medicine to make you feel sleepy, and so you will not feel the tube inside your rectum

Will I get medication to help me relax during test?

Yes, the medicine will make you feel sleepy will also help you relax during the test. This is a light sedation; you are not put completely under, but it’s enough so that you won’t feel the tube inserted in your rectum. Because you will be lightly sedated, you will need someone to drive you home after a colonoscopy.

What if I don’t have someone to drive me home after a colonoscopy?

There are local resources in your area to help with transportation. Click here to learn more about local resources in Buffalo or Hastings.

How much time will I need to take off work or stop normal activities?

Getting a colonoscopy does require some planning and preparation. Before the colonoscopy, you must drink the liquid prep and allow sufficient time for your bowels to empty. This means you will need to make frequent trips to the bathroom, which may limit your normal activities or prevent you from leaving home. You may need an entire day or a few hours in the evening to complete the prep. After the colonoscopy, you won’t be able to drive or work, and probably shouldn’t plan on making any major decisions the day of the procedure. Some people need a second recovery day.


There is typically a wait from when you schedule a colonoscopy to when you can be seen for the procedure. While it is unfortunate that there is a wait time for this very important screening test, it is not a test that must be done immediately. This also allows you time to plan ahead.


Occasionally, Saturday hours are available for colonoscopy appointments. Make sure to ask about planning and preparation when you call to schedule your appointment.  Click here to learn more about local resources in Buffalo or Hastings.

Do I have to change my diet?

You need to drink the bowel prep and your doctor may have you drink only clear liquids for at least a day before the exam.

Do I have to stop taking medication?

No, in general you should not stop taking your medications. Tell your doctor about all the medications you are taking.

Do I need to cut back on blood thinners for colonoscopy?

Some medications like blood thinners should be stopped before the procedure. Tell your doctor about the medications you are taking.

Are there times that I should not have colonoscopy?

Having a test to prevent cancer or detect cancer early is important. Another test may be better for you. Your doctor will tell you if you should have another test instead of a colonoscopy.

How long do I have to wait to get my test results?

The doctor can tell you at the end of your appointment if they found or removed any polyps. Having polyps does not mean you have cancer. Any sample tissues or polyps taken from your colon during the colonoscopy will be sent to a lab for testing. You should get results within a week of your procedure. Make sure to ask how the doctor will follow up with you and how long it should take for your results. When you get results, make sure to ask about your follow-up plan.

What do I do if the test is positive (abnormal)?

Polyps that are seen are removed and sent to a lab to see if any areas have changed into cancer. If a very large polyp is found, the doctor might just take a sample (biopsy) of it and send it to the lab. If the polyp is cancerous (malignant) you would talk to your doctor about treatment options.

Does a negative (normal) result mean I do not have colorectal cancer?

A negative (normal) result means that no polyps or tumors were found during your colonoscopy. Ask your doctor to explain your test results.

How can I do the “prep” for a colonoscopy if I’m diabetic or have to watch my sugar/insulin?

If you are diabetic and have decided to have a colonoscopy, there are some special considerations that need to be considered before doing the “prep”.  It is important to talk to the healthcare provider who manages your diabetes before doing the preparation for a colonoscopy.  It is suggested that diabetic patients request an early morning appointment so that they can resume a normal diet as soon as possible.

Does insurance cover the cost of colonoscopy?

Colorectal cancer screening is covered by most insurance plans and Medicare. Check with your insurance provider or Medicare (1-800-MEDICARE) to find out which tests are covered for you.