From Our Blog

Read a series of blog posts by James Vecchio, MD, Medical Director of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at Fletcher Allen Health Care:

At Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, VT, our Endoscopy Clinic provides a full range of endoscopic procedures using the latest technological procedures.

Colonoscopy - What You Need to Know

A colonoscopy is an examination of the large intestine (colon) using a flexible scope called a colonoscope. Learn more about colonoscopy:

Who Needs a Colonoscopy?

People who are 50 years of age or older, have a family history of colon cancer or bowel diseases such as colon polyps, forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) like Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn's Disease or who have changes in their bowel habits.

Changes in bowel habits may include bleeding, abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation or a change in the size of stools.

Nearly 75% of all colon cancer cases occur in individuals with no known medical risk factors, further underscoring the importance of routine colon cancer screenings.

Why do I need a colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy makes it possible to detect and identify abnormal tissue growths called polyps - a fleshy growth on the wall of the colon. If left untreated, the polyp may develop into colorectal cancer.

Colon cancer is the second cancer killer in the United States.

Why does the bowel need to be clean? Why is a bowel prep necessary?

A clean colon is a must for an accurate exam since it ensures a good view of the colon. If there is any waste inside the colon when the procedure is performed, the physician may not be able to see the colon surface clearly which can reduce the accuracy of the colonoscopy.

Cleaning the colon is a process commonly known as a "bowel prep", and your physician can discuss which option is best for you. It is important to follow the bowel prep instructions and finish all of the prescribed preparation.

For detailed bowel prep instructions, read Colonoscopy Instructions Using Golytely Bowel Preparation.

Colonoscopy Tips

  • Use Vaseline or Desitin to protect the skin on your bottom prior to starting your preparation.
  • Drink the preparation through a straw.
  • Cool the preparation by putting it in the refrigerator.
  • Suck on a Popsicle before and after drinking the solution.
  • Drink at least 8 ounces of clear liquids every hour while awake. This helps cleanse the colon and give us a better view.
  • Make sure you are close to a bathroom once you begin drinking the preparation. Remember: It may take a few hours for the preparation to begin working.
  • If you vomit while drinking the preparation, stop for one hour and then resume drinking again.
  • After the procedure, you may experience cramping and bloating. This will go away when you pass gas.
  • It is normal not to have a bowel movement for one or two days after your colonoscopy. You may notice a small amount of blood after the procedure if you had biopsies.
  • If you are experiencing abdominal pain, a temperature of 101° or greater or if you are passing large amounts of blood, please call your Endoscopist immediately.

Find a Fletcher Allen physician or call 802-847-9255.