How long does a lower endoscopy take?

Answered by Phillip Nicastro

Lower GI endoscopy, also known as a colonoscopy, is a medical procedure that allows doctors to examine the lining of the colon and rectum. It is commonly used to diagnose and treat various gastrointestinal conditions, such as colon polyps, colorectal cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, and gastrointestinal bleeding.

The duration of a lower endoscopy can vary depending on several factors, including the individual’s specific situation and the complexity of the procedure. On average, the procedure usually takes around 15-20 minutes to complete. However, it’s important to note that the preparation before the procedure and the recovery period afterward can extend the overall time commitment.

Before undergoing a lower endoscopy, patients are typically required to prepare their bowels for the procedure. This often involves following a specific diet, taking laxatives, and sometimes using an enema to clear the colon. The preparation process can take several hours or even a day, depending on the instructions provided by the healthcare provider.

On the day of the procedure, patients are usually given sedation or anesthesia to help them relax and minimize any discomfort or pain. This can be administered through an intravenous (IV) line. Once the patient is comfortable, a flexible tube called a colonoscope is gently inserted through the rectum and guided through the colon.

During the colonoscopy, the doctor carefully examines the colon lining for any abnormalities, such as polyps or signs of inflammation. If necessary, tissue samples may be taken for further analysis (biopsy) or polyps may be removed. These procedures can add some additional time to the overall duration of the colonoscopy.

While the colonoscope is being maneuvered through the colon, patients may experience some discomfort or cramping. However, the sedation or anesthesia helps to minimize any pain or uneasiness. It’s important to communicate with the healthcare team during the procedure if you experience any significant discomfort.

After the colonoscopy is completed, the colonoscope is slowly withdrawn, and the patient is monitored in a recovery area until the effects of the sedation wear off. This recovery period can take anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours, depending on how quickly the patient recovers from the sedation.

The duration of a lower endoscopy or colonoscopy typically ranges from 15-20 minutes for the actual procedure itself. However, when factoring in the preparation time, sedation administration, and recovery period, the overall time commitment can be several hours. It’s important to follow all the instructions provided by your healthcare provider to ensure a successful and comfortable experience.