How long does a colonoscopy take?

Many people want to know how to prepare for a colonoscopy, as well as how long the operation will take. This timeline is critical for both patients and caregivers who accompany them to a colonoscopy appointment.

Depending on whether the doctor wants to remove polyps or take biopsies, a colonoscopy procedure will take anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes. Patients and caregivers should expect to spend a total of 2-3 hours at the hospital or endoscopy centre to account for planning and recovery time.

Author: Dr. Sarmed Sami MBChB, MRCP, PGCME, PhD

Consultant Gastroenterologist, Founder and Director of Digestive Health UK.

What happens during the procedure?

The patient will change into a gown 30-60 minutes before the colonoscopy and an

IV will be started by a nurse. The doctor or a nurse will explain what will happen during the operation as well as any potential risks.

The patient is typically given light sedation via pill or IV after that. The patient is unable to recall the colonoscopy because of the sedation.

The patient will require 30-60 minutes to recover from the sedation after the procedure is done before getting ready and leaving the building. Before leaving, the doctor will review what he or she discovered during the colonoscopy and discuss any necessary next steps for good digestive health.

If the doctor removes polyps or takes tissue samples (biopsies), the lab will decide if they are benign, precancerous, or cancerous. If a polyp or growth is too large to be removed during a colonoscopy, your doctor can refer you to a specialist or surgeon who can. In these cases, the doctor may recommend that you adopt a low residue diet for a while.

Since sedation’s residual effects can last up to a day, patients should not drive themselves home or make any important decisions until the effects have worn off completely. Following a colonoscopy, the patient may feel bloated and pass gas while clearing air for the rest of the day.

How long does it take for the surgery?

  • 30-60 minutes to prepare the patient for the operation just before it begins.
  • The colonoscopy itself takes 30-60 minutes.
  • Following the operation, you will have 30-60 minutes to recover at the hospital or endoscopy centre.
  • Rest and recuperate at home for the rest of the day.

Caregivers either wait in a waiting room or send their phone number to the office staff so they can be contacted when it’s time to pick up the patient after the colonoscopy. Patients would need to relax and recover at home for the remainder of the day; those who work should prepare to take the day off.