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A colonoscopy helps identify abnormal tissue within the walls of the large intestine and lower digestive tract — usually manifesting as polyps. While polyps are often non-cancerous and can be removed during the colonoscopy, some are signs of cancerous tissue.

When should I get a colonoscopy?

  • If you are over the age of 50 and have no current risk factors for cancer, it is recommended that you have an exam every 10 years.
  • If polyps have been found in previous exams, our gastroenterologists may recommend another exam in five years.
  • If the procedure was unable to be fully completed, another exam may be completed within a year.

An additional colonoscopy may be recommended if multiple polyps are found, especially if they are large or have indications of cancer.

What happens during the colonoscopy appointment?

Before the exam begins, the patient will be given a mild sedative or analgesic. Once the patient is lying down, a colonoscopy tube is inserted into the rectum and fed up through the lower digestive tract. Attached at the tip will be a small video camera that provides images for our gastroenterologists. From this, Dr. Michael Flicker, Dr. Carl Atallah and Dr. Daniel Berger can identify symptom sources, take biopsies, screen for signs of colon cancer and remove polyps on the walls of the intestine. Usually these exams take between 30 minutes to a full hour. If you received a sedative, its effects can last for up to 24 hours, and you will not be able to drive a vehicle home.

How do I prepare for a colonoscopy?

Depending on the patient, our gastroenterologists may recommend the following before your colonoscopy in Chicago, Illinois:

  • Only ingesting clear liquids the day prior to your exam.
  • Taking a laxative dose the night before, and sometimes the morning of, your exam. Alternatively, an enema kit may be recommended.
  • Temporarily changing or stopping a medication, especially if we are treating high blood pressure, diabetes or heart problems.

If you have questions about your upcoming colonoscopy, or about any symptoms following the exam, call 773-598-5588.