A colonoscopy is a test that lets your child’s doctor look directly into the large intestine (colon) and the last part of the small intestine (ileum.)
A flexible tube with a camera (endoscope) is inserted through the rectum and moved through the colon to the end of the small intestine. Your child is asleep during the procedure, which takes between 45 and 90 minutes to complete. The pictures show information about the intestines—such as swelling, bleeding and infection—that cannot be obtained from a physical exam and other tests.
A colonoscopy is done to find out why a child is experiencing symptoms such as:
- Abdominal pain
- Black, tarry stools
- Blood in the stool
- Changes in bowel movements
- Rectal pain
- Weight loss
A colonoscopy is also used to diagnose and monitor certain conditions, including:
During the exam, small tissue samples may be collected (biopsy) for further study under a microscope. Your child’s doctor may also remove polyps and treat any problems that are found, such as bleeding.
After the colonoscopy, your child is moved to a recovery area where he or she will be monitored until fully awake. The doctor will talk to you about the colonoscopy findings, including information about any medicines your child should take.
Once your child is able to drink fluids, he or she will be able to go home.
What to Expect
What to Expect
The day before your child’s colonoscopy procedure at Riley at IU Health:
- The doctor will give you medicine that your child needs to take in order to flush out the contents of the colon. By getting stool out of the intestines, your child’s doctor can see what is happening inside the colon.
- Your child should drink lots of fluids and follow a clear liquid diet.
- Do not allow your child to eat any solid food.
On the day of the colonoscopy test:
- Your child should not eat or drink anything on the morning of the colonoscopy.
- You and your child will meet with the doctor when you arrive at the hospital or outpatient center.
- The pediatric gastroenterologist will talk with you and your child to answer questions and discuss the procedure.
- Your child will change into a hospital gown.
- An anesthesiologist will meet with you to determine the best anesthesia medicine for your child.
- A medicine may be given to help your child relax if he or she is anxious.
- You will be allowed to remain in the room as he or she is given anesthetic.
- The anesthesiologist will administer the anesthesia using either a mask or an intravenous line.
- You may be asked to wait in the waiting room once your child is asleep.
- Your child’s blood pressure, heart rate, temperature and blood oxygen level will be constantly monitored during the colonoscopy.
- The endoscope is passed through the anus to the end of the colon and into the last part of the small intestine.
- The doctor looks at each area and takes photos.
- The doctor may remove tiny tissue samples to check for infections or changes in the tissue.
- When the exam is complete, the endoscope is removed.
Immediately after the colonoscopy:
- Your child will be taken to a recovery room.
- You can sit with your child as the anesthesia wears off and he or she begins to wake up.
- Your child may feel confused or nauseous, or he or she may vomit. These feelings are normal and will go away when the anesthesia wears off.
- The doctor will come and talk to you about what he or she saw during the colonoscopy.
- The doctor may show you photos taken during the exam.
- If your child needs to take any medicines, the doctor will explain the specifics.
- You will be allowed to go home once your child is able to drink fluids and feels well.
- Your child may feel tired the day after the colonoscopy.
Once you and your child return home, you should follow these guidelines:
- Your child can eat and drink normally when he or she feels able to do so.
- Be sure your child takes the medicines that are prescribed by his or her doctor.
- To prevent vomiting, give your child ginger ale and popsicles.
- Call the doctor if any of the following symptoms occur:
- Abdominal pain that last longer than one hour
- Bleeding that is more than a spoonful
- Persistent fever
In most cases, your child will recover from the procedure within 24 hours.
Key Points to Remember
Key Points to Remember
- A colonoscopy lets a doctor look directly into the rectum, colon and last part of the small intestine.
- Be sure your child follows the colonoscopy preparation instructions to ensure the colon is cleared of stool.
- Your child will be asleep during the exam, which takes between 45 and 90 minutes to complete.
- Small tissue samples may be removed (biopsy) for further study during the colonoscopy.
- You will be allowed to go home once your child is fully awake and drinking fluids after the test