Gregory Endoscopy Centre

at Brigham and Women's Faulkner Hospital


Colonoscopy is a diagnostic procedure that allows the physician to examine the entire length of the large intestine. Colonoscopy can assist in identifying problems with the colon, such as early signs of cancer, inflamed tissue, ulcers and bleeding. Colonoscopy is also used to screen for colorectal cancer, the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States and the fourth most common cancer in men and women. Patients often don’t feel any symptoms during the early stages of colon cancer, but the colonoscopy can provide your doctor with visual evidence.

During the procedure a thin, flexible, lighted tube, called a colonoscope, is placed into the rectum and colon. In addition to allowing visualization of the internal colon, the colonoscope enables the physician to irrigate, suction, inject air and access the bowel with surgical instruments. During a colonoscopy, the physician may remove tissue and/or polyps for further examination and possibly treat any problems that are discovered.

Other related procedures that may be used to assess problems of the colon include abdominal x-ray, computed tomography (CT scan) of the abdomen, abdominal ultrasound, barium enema and sigmoidoscopy.

To view all printable colonoscopy resources, visit our For Patients page.

Additional Information About Colonoscopy

How Should You Prepare for a Colonoscopy?

After scheduling an appointment with us, you will be mailed complete instructions on how to prepare for your procedure or you may print them here:

Here’s a synopsis of the key things that you should do to prepare:

  1. Call your insurance company and ask if the colonoscopy test is covered for the reason given by your doctor.
  2. Ask your insurance company if you need a referral for the colonoscopy. If they say “yes,” then you MUST get a referral from your primary care physician.
  3. Make plans for a responsible adult to come with you to the hospital. Sedation medication will not be given if you don’t have someone to drive you home (a taxi/Uber driver cannot serve as your responsible adult).
  4. Five days prior to your procedure, please start a low-fiber diet and do not eat vegetables or take fiber supplements (Metamucil®) or iron.
  5. If you take Coumadin®, Plavix® or other blood thinners, please speak with the doctor who prescribed it for dose changes. In most cases, you cannot have the test while on blood thinners.
  6. If you are diabetic, please speak with your doctor about how to take your medication in order to prevent low blood sugar.
  7. The day before the colonoscopy you will need to take a laxative preparation. After you make your appointment, you will receive instructions by mail telling you which prep (laxative) is prescribed for you.

Other Printable Colonoscopy Resources:

**Please print and complete this form in advance and bring it with you on the day of your procedure.**
What is a Low-Fiber Diet?

A low-fiber diet limits the amount of food waste that has to move through the large intestine.

Please follow this diet three to five days prior to the procedure (click for PDF).

Special Instructions

For Patients with Diabetes: Contact your primary care provider about diabetic medications. You will not be eating or drinking for a few hours before your test. Your medications may need adjustment to keep your blood sugar at a safe level.

For Patients on Blood Thinners: Medicines like Coumadin (warfarin), Pradaxa and Plavix (clopidogrel) are usually stopped 5 to 7 days before your test. Stopping them helps prevent bleeding if tissue is removed or biopsied. You must contact your primary care provider for specific directions about these medications. In some cases, you may not be able to have your test while taking blood thinners.

For Patients with Pacemakers, Defibrillators and Other Implanted Devices: Bring your device card with you. Make sure your pacemaker has had its routine checkup.

If there is any possibility you may be pregnant, please consult your primary care provider or obstetrician regarding having this procedure. If you need to make any changes to your procedure please call, 617-983-7017.

Recovery and Follow-Up
  • After your test is finished, you will be taken to the recovery area where you will be monitored for about 30 minutes.
  • You may experience some bloating and gas after your test.
  • When you are awake, you will receive a snack and your nurse will discuss the exam findings with you.
  • You must have a responsible adult to take you home after the procedure (not a taxi/Uber driver). If you are unable to find a ride home, please contact us at 617-983-7120, as we do have information about a driving service that some of our patients have used.
  • You will go home with instructions telling you what was found, what to do when you get home and when to follow up with the doctor.
  • You may feel drowsy - plan to rest.
  • Do not drive or drink alcohol or make important decisions that day.
  • You may eat your usual diet unless directed by your doctor.
  • You may return to work the next day.
  • Biopsy results take 1 to 2 weeks to return and your doctor will inform you of the results by mail or phone.
  • Your primary care provider will receive all reports.
  • If you receive a mail survey, please respond. We welcome your feedback. Thank you!


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