Colonoscopy: Before Your Child's Procedure

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What is a colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy (say "koh-luh-NAW-skuh-pee") is a test that lets a doctor look inside your child's colon. The doctor uses a thin, lighted tube called a colonoscope to look for small growths called polyps. The doctor can also look for other causes of your child's symptoms such as belly pain and blood in the stool.

During the test, the doctor can take out polyps and samples of tissue. These can then be checked for problems. This is called a biopsy.

Your child must have a clean bowel for the test. Your doctor will give you instructions on when your child should stop eating and how to give the liquid or pills that clean out the bowel. This is called a "colon prep."

This procedure is done in a doctor's office or a clinic or hospital. Your child will get medicine for pain and to help him or her relax. Some children don't remember having the test because of the medicine.

The test takes 30 to 45 minutes. You can take your child home after the medicine wears off. This takes 1 to 2 hours.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

What happens before the procedure?

Procedures can be stressful both for your child and for you. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for your child's procedure.

Preparing for the procedure

  • Understand exactly what procedure is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • Tell the doctors ALL the medicines and natural health products your child takes. Some of these can increase the risk of bleeding or interact with anesthesia. Your doctor will tell you which medicines your child should take or stop before the procedure.
  • Talk to your child about the procedure. Tell your child that it will check for problems with his or her belly. Hospitals know how to take care of children. The staff will do all they can to make it easier for your child.
  • Ask if a special tour of the operating area and hospital is available. This may make your child feel less nervous about what happens.

Before the procedure

  • Follow your doctor's directions about when your child has to stop eating solid foods and drink only clear liquids. These include water, clear juices, clear broths, frozen fruit treats, and gelatin (such as Jell-O). Do not let your child eat or drink anything red or purple. This includes grape juice and grape-flavoured ice pops. It also includes fruit punch and cherry gelatin.
  • Give your child the "colon prep" as your doctor tells you. You will want to stay home with your child, because he or she will have to go to the washroom a lot. Your child's stools will be loose and watery. If your child has problems taking the prep, call your doctor.
  • Be sure that your child does not eat any solid foods after the colon prep.
  • Your child will not be able to drink any clear liquids for a few hours before the test. Your doctor will tell you how many hours this will be.

What happens on the day of the procedure?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when your child should stop eating and drinking. If you don't, the procedure may be cancelled. If the doctor told you to have your child take his or her medicines on the day of the procedure, have your child take them with only a sip of water.
  • Have your child take a bath or shower before you come in. Do not apply lotion or deodorant.
  • Your child may brush his or her teeth. But tell your child not to swallow any toothpaste or water.
  • Be sure your child has something that reminds him or her of home. A special stuffed animal, toy, or blanket may be comforting. For an older child, it might be a book or music.

At the doctor's office or hospital

  • A parent or legal guardian must accompany your child.
  • Your child will be kept comfortable and safe by the anesthesia provider. Your child may get medicine to bring on a light sleep or to relax him or her.
  • The procedure will take 30 to 45 minutes.
  • After the procedure, your child will be taken to the recovery room. As your child wakes up, the recovery room staff will monitor his or her condition. The doctor will talk to you about the procedure.
  • You will probably be able to take your child home after the medicine wears off. This takes 1 to 2 hours.

Going home

  • Expect your child to be sleepy. Encourage extra rest the first day. Most children can be more active on the day after the procedure.
  • Follow your doctor's instructions about when your child can do vigorous exercise. This includes sports, running, and physical education.
  • When you leave the hospital, you will get more information about how to take care of your child at home.
  • The doctor or nurse will tell you when your child can start normal activities again.

When should you call your doctor?

  • You have questions or concerns.
  • You don't understand how to prepare your child for the procedure.
  • Your child becomes ill before the procedure (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
  • You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about your child having the procedure.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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Current as of: August 9, 2016