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What are the Side Effects from a Colonoscopy?

Colonoscopy is a medical treatment procedure which is conducted to take a clear look inside the colon. The colon is the last segment of the digestive system. It actually helps in discharging unwanted waste from the human body after the small intestine has successfully absorbed all the nutrients from the food. Size of the colon range between three to five feet ad it moves from the lower abdomen to the liver and then reaches the upper left side of the spleen and finally move down from the anus.

For performing the colonoscopy procedure, doctor make use of an instrument known as colonoscope. This instrument is around five feet long and about an inch broad, it has a small flexible fiberoptic camera at the tip which helps in giving clear picture of the colon. This procedure is helpful in identifying a series of problems related to colon. It is very useful in identifying colorectal cancer.

  • Research reveals that colorectal cancer is the second most common form of cancer that can even lead to death of an individual.
  • This form of cancer starts to develop from the inner wall of the intestine and slowly forms a tumor.
  • The tenure for complete growth of the tumor is between five to ten years and in majority of cases the problem does not show any symptoms.
  • People having a genetic history of colon cancer are more prone to get affected with this problem.

What are the Side Effects from a Colonoscopy?

What are the Side Effects from a Colonoscopy?

Like any other procedure, some amount of risk is also associated with colonoscopy as well. Before signing the consent form, the patients must ensure to ask the doctor about all the possible risk factors related to colonoscopy. Some of the common side effects are as follows:

Cramps: Severe cramping and unusual swelling in the abdominal region, which is developed because of air pumped inside the patient’s body for inflating the colon. This is a part of the diagnostic procedure and the painful symptom it shows slowly disappears without any form of medication.

Injury: Although, it is very rare, but at times the procedure may also injure the intestine and cause bleeding, infection and perforation.

Blood Spots: If the patient undergoes biopsy as a part of the procedure, then patients may find some blood spots in the bowel movements. However, this is not a permanent symptom it goes off with time.

Unnoticed Abnormalities: Even though this procedure is very effective in identifying almost all types of digestive diseases, but still there may be some abnormalities which can go unnoticed. In this situation, the skill of the person performing the procedure can influence the test result.

To some patients, the test is performed only after given some sedating pills to the patient. This is given so that the test is performed easily and comfortably. The medication is given to the patient only under complete medical supervision of medical experts and after the medication is given, patient is kept under observation to study the after effects or other complications.

How to Prepare for Procedure?

A day before the procedure is performed, doctor provides detail instruction to the patient about what should be done and what not. The main objective is to completely clear the colon before performing the test. This helps in getting a clear view of the bowel wall. Hence, the patients are kept on liquid diet for a minimum of two days. In addition, there are various medications available in the market that helps in cleaning the bowel. Some of the medications initiate diarrhea, which comfortably cleanses bowel. In case the bowel is not completely free from stool, then there is a high possibility that the test result may not show accuracy. Further, the night before the test is performed no food (neither in solid or liquid form) is allowed to be taken. It is only after the test is complete; the patients are given light food, which is healthy and not heavy on the stomach.


  1. American Cancer Society. (2021). Colorectal Cancer Facts & Figures 2021-2023. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/colon-rectal-cancer/about/key-statistics.html
  2. Mayo Clinic. (2021). Colonoscopy. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/colonoscopy/about/pac-20393569

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 30, 2023

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