Colonoscopy (Inpatient Care) Care Guide

A colonoscopy is a procedure to examine the inside of your colon (large intestine) using a flexible tube with a small light and camera on the end. During a colonoscopy, caregivers may remove a small amount of tissue from the colon for a biopsy. A biopsy can help diagnose problems with your colon.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.


  • You may have pain or bleeding as the scope is passed inside your bowel. You may also have a slow heartbeat, decreased blood pressure, or increased sweating, or faint. Your colon may get perforated (torn) due to the increased pressure from the scope and air. This may cause bowel contents to leak out of the colon and into your abdomen. If this happens, you will need to stay in the hospital and have surgery on your colon.

  • Without this procedure, diseases may not be diagnosed and proper treatment may be delayed. The signs and symptoms you have may continue and worsen. You may have problems eating, digesting food, or moving your bowel. This may lead to other serious medical problems, such as a blockage of your colon.


Before your procedure:

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

  • An IV is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.

  • Pre-op care: You may be given medicine right before your procedure or surgery. This medicine may make you feel relaxed and sleepy. You are taken on a stretcher to the room where your procedure or surgery will be done, and then you are moved to a table or bed.

  • Monitoring:

    • Heart monitor: This is also called an ECG or EKG. Sticky pads placed on your skin record your heart's electrical activity.

    • Pulse oximeter: A pulse oximeter is a device that measures the amount of oxygen in your blood. A cord with a clip or sticky strip is placed on your finger, ear, or toe. The other end of the cord is hooked to a machine. Never turn the pulse oximeter or alarm off. An alarm will sound if your oxygen level is low or cannot be read.

    • Vital signs: Caregivers will check your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature. They will also ask about your pain. These vital signs give caregivers information about your current health.

During your procedure:

  • You are asked to lie on your left side. You are given medicine to help you relax. You will raise one or both knees toward your chest. Your caregiver will examine your anus and use a finger to perform a digital rectal exam (DRE) to check your rectum. He will also feel for your prostate if you are a man. If your bowel is not totally empty, your caregiver may give you another enema.

  • During your procedure, the colonoscope is lubricated and gently placed into your anus. It is then passed through the rectum and into the colon. Water or air is put into the colon to help clean or expand it. This helps the colonoscope to pass through easier and allows your caregiver to see your colon better. Tissue samples may be taken from the walls of the bowel and sent to a lab for tests. Your caregiver will also remove stool or polyps (growths) that may be in your bowel using small tools. Your caregiver may take pictures of the inside of your colon during the procedure. When the procedure is finished, the scope is slowly removed.

After your procedure:

You may pass some air that is left in your colon. When your caregiver sees that you are okay, you will be allowed to change clothes and go home. If your caregiver wants you to stay in the hospital, you will be taken back to your hospital room.

  • Eat healthy foods: Choose healthy foods from all the food groups every day. Include whole-grain bread, cereal, rice, and pasta. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, including dark green and orange vegetables. Include dairy products such as low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese. Choose protein sources, such as lean beef and chicken, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts. Ask how many servings of fats, oils, and sweets you should have each day, and if you need to be on a special diet.

  • Drinking liquids: Men 19 years old and older should drink about three Liters of liquid each day (about 13 eight-ounce cups). Women 19 years old and older should drink about two Liters of liquid each day (about 9 eight-ounce cups). Follow your caregiver's advice if you must change the amount of liquid you drink. For most people, healthy liquids to drink are water, juices, and milk. If you are used to drinking liquids that contain caffeine, such as coffee, these can also be counted in your daily liquid amount. Try to drink enough liquid each day, and not just when you feel thirsty.

  • Medicines: You may need any of the following:

    • Pain medicine: Caregivers may give you medicine to take away or decrease your pain.

      • Do not wait until the pain is severe to ask for your medicine. Tell caregivers if your pain does not decrease. The medicine may not work as well at controlling your pain if you wait too long to take it.

      • Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling a caregiver when you want to get out of bed or if you need help.

    • Stool softeners: This medicine makes it easier for you to have a bowel movement. You may need this medicine to treat or prevent constipation.

  • Monitoring: Caregivers will take your vital signs to make sure that you are okay. Caregivers may also check for your pulses on your arms or wrists. This helps caregivers learn if you have problems with blood flow after your procedure.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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