What Happens After My Colonoscopy?

Learn more about what to expect after your colonoscopy.

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Summary
  • After your colonoscopy, you will stay in a recovery area until your sedatives wear off.
  • If any polyps are removed, they will be sent to a lab for analysis. The results can be cancerous, precancerous, or noncancerous.
  • If the polyps are cancerous, you work with an oncologist, colorectal surgeon, and cystic fibrosis care team to come up with a treatment plan.

During a colonoscopy, the gastroenterologist or colonoscopist removes polyps and sends them to a laboratory for analysis. There, they will determine whether the polyp is cancerous, precancerous, or noncancerous and contact you when your results are available.

What to Expect Immediately After the Exam

After your colonoscopy, you will be monitored in a recovery area until most of the effects of the sedatives have worn off. You might feel some cramping or bloating because of the air introduced into the colon during the procedure, but this should pass.

Prior to your colonoscopy, you will need to arrange for someone you know to drive you home after the procedure. Even though you will be awake when you leave, the medications you are given during the procedure can impair your judgment and reflexes for the rest of the day.

“You will need a ride home, which means an actual person must meet you in the office/waiting area. Because the sedatives they give you during the exam affect everyone differently, the hospital will not let you take a cab, Uber, or Lyft home to ensure your safety.” -- Amy Braid, an adult with CF, from the CF Community Blog

 

You should be able to go back to your normal diet after the exam, but your doctor may recommend that you stay away from certain foods and activities -- especially if a polyp is removed. Talk to your colonoscopist and cystic fibrosis care team to discuss the right post-exam plan for you.

What Happens If They Find a Polyp?

Most polyps are noncancerous, and the type of polyp may be identified during a colonoscopy.

If the laboratory does find any cancerous polyps during the analysis, however, you will begin to work with an oncologist, colorectal surgeon, and your CF care team to discuss the role of further imaging to stage the cancer. The stage of a colorectal cancer depends on how deeply it has grown into the intestinal wall and if it has spread outside the colon or rectum.

Once the cancer has been staged, your team will work with you to discuss your treatment options, which may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy, and pain management, such as palliative care.

The American Society of Clinical Oncology offers a list of questions to ask your health care team to help you better understand your diagnosis, treatment plan, and overall care.

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Adult Care | CF-Related Complications
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