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A colonoscopy allows doctors to look inside the colon. The colon is also called the large intestine or bowel. It is a part of the digestive system. This is the system that carries food and waste through the body.
Your child’s care team may order a colonoscopy if your child has:
During a colonoscopy, the doctor puts a thin, flexible tube into the rectum. The rectum is where bowel movements come out. The tube goes inside the colon. The tube is called a colonoscope. It has a light and tiny camera on the end to help the doctor see inside the colon.
The doctor looks for possible causes such as bleeding, swelling, holes in colon wall, growths, ulcers, or tumors. A colonoscopy will help the care team better understand and treat the problems your child has.
The colonoscopy itself takes about 30 minutes. Preparation for a colonoscopy begins the day before.
The colon needs to be empty so the doctor can see everything clearly.
Please follow the care team’s instructions exactly. The colonoscopy will be canceled if your child does not follow the care team’s directions.
How to prepare for a colonoscopy depends on your child’s age, how much they weigh, and other factors.
The care team may have your child eat a low-fiber diet a few days before the procedure. That includes not eating nuts, seeds, dried fruits, fresh fruits, and vegetables.
Your child may have a clear liquid diet a day or so before the colonoscopy.
A clear liquid diet may include:
Do not give your child any food that is red in color. Do not give your child any solid foods, juice with pulp, or milk products.
Your child may also receive a cleansing liquid. It is called bowel prep. It involves drinking a lot of liquid.
In some cases, your child may get a laxative. A laxative is medicine to cause a bowel movement.
Your child may need an enema. An enema is an injection of liquid in the anus. The anus is the hole where bowel movements comes out.
The colonoscopy happens in a hospital or clinic. You will be asked to arrive a few hours before the procedure begins.
This is what happens during a colonoscopy procedure:
Your child’s doctor will talk with you. Your child will stay at the hospital or clinic for a short time to make sure they are OK before they go home.
Your child’s throat might feel numb for about an hour. Avoid letting your child eat or drink during this time. It might be dangerous because your child cannot feel the food or liquid.
You might notice a small amount of blood in a bowel movement or the toilet. If you see a lot of blood, call the care team.
Your child might have trouble with balance after a colonoscopy. They should not drive after the test if they are old enough to drive. The medicines they had for the procedure makes it dangerous to drive.
Call the call team if you have any questions.
A colonoscopy allows your child’s doctor to look inside the colon.
Reviewed: September 2022