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A colonoscopy allows your doctor to examine the colon and terminal ileum (the last part of the small intestine). A small, flexible tube with a light and camera is passed through the rectum and into the colon. This allows a much larger view of the colon from the rectum to the area near the appendix. As the scope is passed through the colon, the images are put on a TV screen for the doctor to see. Air is pumped into the colon to allow the doctor to see the walls of the colon. Your doctor will take tissue samples or biopsies from different parts of the colon. These samples will be examined under a microscope. The doctor will also remove any areas that are not normal, like a polyp, if they are seen during the procedure.

The doctor may want to do this procedure to check out problems like diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, and pain with a bowel movement, ulcers, or inflammation in the colon.

Before the Procedure

Three (3) days before this procedure the child will need to take acetaminophen instead of aspirin or ibuprofen to decrease the chances of increased bleeding during the procedure.

Make sure all lab work ordered by the child’s doctor has been done at least 48 hours before the procedure. Failure to do this may cause the child’s procedure to be cancelled.

The child will need to clean out all of the stool in the colon before this procedure. Directions for this are under the heading “Colonoscopy Preparation.”

The child should not have anything to eat or drink 8 hours before the procedure.

The evening before the procedure, a surgery nurse will call you with the time to arrive at the hospital (this call will occur sometime between 4-8 PM). If you don’t receive a call, contact the hospital at 541-8580.

On the morning of the procedure, register at the admitting office at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.

After the Procedure

This procedure is usually done as an outpatient and the child will go home a few hours after the procedure is done. This procedure is done while the child is asleep (under general anesthesia) and usually takes 15-30 minutes.

After the procedure the child will feel some discomfort from increased gas. They may also experience some mild abdominal cramping. If tissue samples are taken, or a polyp is removed, the child may experience a small amount of rectal bleeding and should be expected. If the child experiences a large amount of rectal bleeding, contact your doctor. You should also contact your doctor if the child has really bad abdominal pain, fever, or symptoms get worse.

Biopsy results are available two weeks after the procedure and will be explained by the doctor at your follow-up visit. Schedule a follow up visit with the child’s doctor two weeks after the procedure.

When to Contact Your Doctor

You should contact your child’s physician at (865) 546-3998 if:

  • The pain becomes worse
  • Your child has a large amount of rectal bleeding
  • Your child develops a fever over 101.5


Image above from NIDDK