Getting a Colonoscopy

Parent Q&A

Special gastroenterologist for colonoscopy May 25, 2018 (2 responses below)
Colonoscopy without sedation @ Kaiser - dr. recs? Feb 14, 2018 (1 responses below)
Colonoscopy after abdominal surgery? Kaiser rec? Dec 6, 2017 (4 responses below)
Colonoscopy at Kaiser Oakland Dec 12, 2016 (6 responses below)
  • Special gastroenterologist for colonoscopy

    (2 replies)

    Hi, I'm approaching 52 years old and need to get a colonoscopy. I'm looking for a gastroenterologist that's willing to give, or at least start, a colonoscopy with no sedation. I read this is not uncommon in other parts of the world. I am willing to get conscious sedation, e.g. Versed, if the procedure becomes too uncomfortable, but would like to start with no sedation initially. I do not want propofol. Thank you.

    There was a study done at the VA several years ago where they did colonoscopies with no sedation so that patients could drive themselves home (since some patients have trouble getting a driver and don't have a family member to do it). It is possible to do, but most people find it uncomfortable so my suspicion would be it is super uncommon to do one with no sedation or very little, at least in the US where most people don't expect to have to tolerate a lot of pain with a routine nonemergency procedure.  I would suspect it will be pretty uncomfortable to do without sedation and for the GI doctor, it could raise the risk of a complication (like perforation of the colon with the colonoscopy scope, which is generally uncommon but I imagine might be more common if the patient is not calm and still).  For example, if you (the patient) move around suddenly because of pain, that might cause trauma to your internal tissues or even the scope to poke through the colon - again, it's uncommon but probably may make the GI doc nervous.  The best way might be to do it with an dedicated anesthesiologist doing the sedation/monitoring, and have discussed your wants/needs about sedation with the anesthesiologist beforehand (such as in a preop clinic).  I'm not a GI doctor but I'm another type of physician and have given conscious sedation for various procedures - we often use small amounts of Versed along with small amounts of fentanyl, which is similar to morphine but more short acting.  I'm not sure if the GI doc is going to feel comfortable doing the sedation (if any) himself/herself along with a registered nurse, in these circumstances, though I think they often do so during routine colonoscopies.  Since your request is unusual and you have specific requests about what you want done, I would  recommend to try to meet with an anesthesia provider (anesthesiologist and/or a certified registered nurse anesthetist) before the day of the procedure.  Your primary doc might be able to refer you to a preop clinic to discuss your needs.  Alternately, you could go for a GI appointment (if you haven't yet met the doctor who is going to do the colonoscopy) and see if the GI doc has dealt with this specific type of request before - if so , he/she might have specific recommendations about how to approach this. I would just caution that you don't want to hamstring your medical providers too much (by making a long list of things that you prohibit, etc.), but discuss your concerns with them honestly, along with any past known drug allergies or intolerances, so that you can all have a plan beforehand. It sounds like you are planning to do this, which is great.  Another thing to consider is it may raise the cost of your procedure if there ends up being another person in the procedure (i.e. if the GI doc usually does the sedation himself but you needed or requested an anesthesiologist...).

    My husband has had two colonoscopies without any sedation with Dr. Kurupath at East Bay Endoscopy, 5858 Horton Street, Suite 100, Emeryville.  He found the procedure perfectly tolerable. That said, you need to discuss the procedure and the pros and cons of sedation with the doctor.  I also wanted to forgo sedation for my colonoscopy, but Dr. Kurupath found the my colon was very twisty, and felt he could not continue without it.  Good luck!

  • Looking for a recommendation for a gastroenterologist at any Kaiser who is comfortable performing colonoscopies without patient sedation.

    After much research it seems like finding a doctor who is experienced at this (and not crabby about it) makes all the difference in the experience. Thanks!!

    while I don't have a recommendation for you at KP, I wanted to let you know that I have persevered and also done this procedure wo/sedation prior to being in the KP system. It is easier for the doctors to knock patients out, they all prefer this because it's faster for them because they don't have to wait to ask if you are comfortable. But you are the patient/consumer and you can do it your way. Especially if you have experience doing your colonoscopy this way, let them know that you understand what the discomfort is all about and can manage it, have done so in the past. In my experience if you stick to your guns and let them know you know what you want, they will capitulate. Best of luck!

  • My husband is of the age to have his first colonoscopy - but I am concerned because when he was 5 he was hit by a car and had major internal bleeding and surgery. This happened in another country so we have no medical records to show what was done, but he has a huge scar up and down his abdomen from the surgery and he remembers that it was very severe and he almost died. His GP doesn't seem phased by this info, but says to mention it to the department prior to the procedure. In reading about colonoscopy after abdominal surgery it is contraindicated if there was colonic perforation, which we guess is part of what happened.  Does anyone have a similar experience or thoughts about this, and beyond, does anyone have a Kaiser Gastroenterologist they would recommend? Thanks BPN community!

    The results with a yearly stool blood test are almost as good as with a colonoscopy. You might want to look that up and talk to the doctor.

    You could consider doing the fecal test (usually it's with some new technology looking for tumor DNA ,now...) instead.  I am a physician and I'd be a bit concerned too, in your situation.  Another alternative would be to email you husband's Kaiser doctor and just nicely explain that you are worried and ask for a consultation (clinic visit) with one of the physicians (or nurse practitioner, or PA, etc.) in the GI department before your husband decides whether to try to do a colonoscopy.  He could have had other abdominal injuries (such as a ruptured spleen with bleeding, for example) that might not necessarily make a colonoscopy more dangerous. However, if he did have damage to the colon itself and had repairs/cutting and sewing to the colon, that could be an issue...GI is not my area but I am trained in internal medicine, and I'd be nervous about sending such a person for colonoscopy without him having seen the GI doc to consult...Kaiser is pretty good insurance but sometimes they tend to have a bit of a one size fits all mentality and you may have to push a little to get anything more than the standard/generic treatment and recommendations.

    Hi - I am a retired MD.You are correct that severe intestinal scarring increases the risk of colonoscopy. The good news, though NOT widely known because colonoscopy has been pushed hard by industry, is that a good, reliable test for blood in the stool, if done annually (which is easy to do and simple) is as good as a colonoscopy for cancer screening. I know an international research expert in the field works at Kaiser. Actually everyone with average risk should use the stool test instead of colonoscopy:  safer for everyone and saves everyone's health care dollar, no anesthesia required. You need to do it once a year - make it easy to remember:  every January 1 send an email to your MD to give you the test which I think you can pick up in the lab. Not sure if MD can order it mailed to you or not. 

  • Colonoscopy at Kaiser Oakland

    (6 replies)

    I had a colonoscopy 5 years ago with a private doctor and now have to have another one. Except now I have Kaiser for the first time and I'm kind of terrified of having to use whatever doctor they choose to do the procedure. I can live with randomly assigned doctors for most of my health care, but this is almost like surgery. I wish I had some way of interviewing doctors but there but they make that really hard. Almost impossible. 

    Any of you BPN folks have a recommendation for someone at the Oakland Kaiser gastro department who you loved?


    RE: Colonoscopy at Kaiser Oakland ()

    I don't have a name to recommend.  But, for what it's worth, I had my first colonoscopy at Kaiser about a year ago and felt very well taken care of, even though I did not even know the doctor's name.

    RE: Colonoscopy at Kaiser Oakland ()

    Dear Jean,

    I've had 3 colonoscopies at Kaiser Oakland with three different doctors, and they have all been fine.  My most recent one was a few weeks ago. The experience as a patient undergoing this procedure at Kaiser is quite impersonal but I still felt very safe and I had no concerns about my medical care.  You are escorted to a curtained off "cubicle" in a row of other patients in similar cubicles.  This is where they have you dress in a gown, they ask you some questions, get your consent and take your vitals.  You are then moved via gurney to the private procedure room where you meet the doctor, and after you are given light sedation you will be comfortable and not really aware of what's going on.  After the procedure, you are wheeled back to another curtained cubicle row of people to recover.  The entire process takes a couple of hours.  Good luck to you.


    RE: Colonoscopy at Kaiser Oakland ()

    Hi.  Dr. Stephanie Santos is great.  She's on the younger side (to a 50 yr old), but most of my doctors are at this point.  Super responsive, smart, and I've had 2 (maybe 3?) lower and upper procedures with her already and have no reservations about her.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Anxiety about getting a colonoscopy

Feb 2009

Now that I'm 50, I'm facing my first colonoscopy and am getting nervous. Actually, I'm getting nervous about getting nervous.. I've had several panic attacks in the past, maybe 4 in a 25 year span. But in between, I have had many almost panic attacks where I feel the symptoms start to mount and I'm able to get through it without feeling like I'm having a total heart attack. Most recently I felt this panicky feeling while the dentist was drilling my teeth. I'm afaid I'll also freak out at the colonoscopy appt because I don't seem to be able to handle anxiety about medical procedures very well. I was hoping some kind souls in the BPN community might have some calming words for me. Thank you! Scardy Cat

I laughed in complete sympathy when I read your post! Just a couple of weeks ago in the span of one week I had both a root canal and a colonoscopy - talk about getting it from all sides! The colonoscopy was a complete non-event! The prep for it (drinking the yucky drink and not eating solids for 24 hours) is a nuisance but the actual procedure was nothing. I went under a light general anesthesia and woke (as my dr had told me I would) just as they were finishing. I felt totally fine afterward and worked the rest of the day. It took a few days for my digestive system to normalize but that was a very minor side effect. Good luck - you will do fine! Sympathetic

I am the BIGGEST coward when it comes to medical/dental anything on the entire planet. Who the practitioner is, is very important. That being said...I too was 'freaked out' (beyond anxious) about having a colonoscopy. I googled everything I could. I spoke with every friend I had who had had one. I found out what 'preps' are the worst and the least worst. ..and across the board everyone said the same thing, the day before is the worst thing about the procedure. You have the option of being awake, or being out when the colonoscopy is performed. I have had two and been asleep both times. Do your homework on the preps (the fluids/pills you'll take the day before). Rent some good videos. Get magazines and WIPES with aloe for the bathroom. Plan on staying home, and close to the bathroom. Drink lots of fluids (they will tell you what you can have....heed what they say) I opted for the pills and the (2) 3 ounce bottles of Fleet. It is foul tasting, they all are..but I learned to bite down on a piece of lemon, and when your cheeks pucker from the sour, drink the fluid. DO NOT EAT THE LEMON PULP. I pretended I was on fear factor and the prize was my health. It will be ok. Honest. been there

I recommend hypnotherapy for both your concerns -- colonoscopy and dental work -- it has worked wonders for me. Mani Feniger 510-528-1130 in Albany, who has also written a book about phobias ''Crossing the Bridge From Fear to Freedom'' -- is amazing! Hypnosis is not about giving over control to someone else, but about using your own inner resources and I think of the hypnotherapist as a sort of coach. Loie Rosenkrantz (849- 4283) in Berkeley worked with me many years ago in preparation for gum surgery. At our only session, she made me a tape that I played during the surgery and every time I had dental work done for at least 10 years. It calmed me so that I was able to tolerate even deep cleanings, which had always frightened me terribly. Now I listen to classical music while the dentist works on me. There are many practitioners of hypnotherapy, but these two women have helped me personally be able to function despite my ''dental terrors'', fear of invasive medical procedures and fear of travelling. Pharmacological help -- such as xanax, which is a short-acting tranquilizer related to Valium -- taken in advance of a procedure -- can be helpful as well. hedy

I would say there's next to no chance you'll have a panic attack during the actual colonoscopy. They don't exactly anesthetize you, but they put you on medication to relax you that is so strong that I honestly don't remember the actual procedure happening to me; it was almost as if I were asleep. By far the worst part of a colonoscopy is the prep -- drinking the nasty salt water and having the runs for hours, all of which happens at home. And it's not painful or anything, just annoying. Karen

I had my first colonoscopy about 2 years ago and was nervous, but it was a simple procedure and I don't worry about future ones in the least. My doctor (Ricard Sundberg at CPMC in SF) explained everything clearly up front which helped. I actually ended up liking the feeling of cleaning out my intestinal track before the procedure although I'm not crazy about the taste of gatorade which is what the doctor had me mix the fiber/laxative (can't recall exactly what it was) powder in the day before the procedure. I had to drink a lot of gatorade, but not all doctors use this methodology. Colonscopies are really not a big deal and they are such an important screening for colon cancer, one of the ones that can be cured if you catch it early enough. I had 2 polyps which were removed during the colonoscopy and didn't even know it was happening (was sedated for part of the procedure) and had no after effects. Don't worry - it's not a big deal and you'll be glad you took care of it (the peace of mind far outweighs the anxiety!). Taking Care of Business

Hey Scardy Cat, I had a colonoscopy a hear ago, after the birth of my first child (I was 29). Put your mind at ease - the colonoscopy part is a breeze. You will be sedated and won't remember or feel a thing! I woke up lazily and comfortably, was offered a drink of water, and when I was concious enough, got dressed and went about my day. I did not have any pain/discomfort from the procedure.

In the interest of full disclosure, the discomfort one experiences with a colonoscopy is in the preparation. Your diet will be severely restricted the day before, and you will be required to take a prescription laxative treatment (for obvious reasons, your colon has to be completely empty for a successful colonoscopy). My laxative treatment tasted horrible, and the diarrhea was no picnic, but it's a small price to pay for your overall health! Don't worry - people get them every day - just do it! Colonoscopy veteran

I do not enjoy invasive medical procedures. So the first time I was told to get my colon examined, 5 years ago, I opted for the virtual colonoscopy. I was expecting a rather neutral experience, but it was more in the negative (but not horrible) direction. Uncomfortable sensation of wanting to defecate but can't. While virtual is better than nothing at all (or the dreaded sigmoidoscopy), it's not nearly as good as the real thing, largely because if something nasty is found, it can't be removed as part of the procedure.

So when the need arose again, 2 months ago, my doctor was adamant about doing the real thing. I read an awful lot of comments, on various forums, from people who had had one, and they all seemed to be saying the same thing: I dreaded it, but the heavy medication they give you truly made it not only painless, but a true mental non-event: no memory of it at all. I was highly skeptical. Highly! But now I can and do say exactly what all the others said: they gave me a pill in the waiting room, and I woke up later with no pain, no after-effects, and absolutely no memory of what had happened. A little scary, but honestly that is how it was (and, it would seem, for nearly everyone else). john

I have had several colonoscopies and they are honestly not that bad. The worst part, by far, is the preparation the night before. You have to drink like a gallon of this yucky stuff that totally cleans you out. It's about 3 hours of serious unpleasantness. You will need to stay very close to the bathroom. The procedure itself is nothing compared to that! You can ask them to give you the max sedative allowed and you'll probably sleep through it. I actually like to be just awake enough to watch it on the TV screen! It's really quite beautiful and incredible to see the inside of your colon on TV. It's very pink and actually quite attractive! If you are slightly awake you may feel discomfort at times--like cramping, and you can just ask them to stop for a minute. I've had to do that a few times because apparently my colon is extra long and twisty. But it wasn't too bad and they were willing to stop when I asked and give me a little break. Maybe you could get there a little early so they could start the valium or whatever they use ahead of time so you can relax. That's the best part anyway! Good luck! been there

Hi Scardy Cat,

I just had the dreaded colonoscopy, I'm 43. Honestly, it was not that bad. Seriously.

I had mine done at Oakland Kaiser. Here's the deal - a day before the appointment, you get the go-go juice and follow the instructions. After you drink it, as a dear friend explained, ''you poop until there are no chunks''. No kidding. Don't worry about aftershocks.Once it's out, it's out, there is nothing left. Show up for your appointment, do some deep breathing while waiting. Once you go in, a nice nurse will tell you what to do, like disrobe, don the gown, put your stuff in a locker and sit in a big comfy chair. Maybe you'll get a magazine and some lame socks.

They start giving you relaxing stuff via IV. (DO NOT look around at the others, very important, it can be frightening seeing a normally pulled together business woman all discombobulated while she wakes up from her put out drugs. Blinders, breathing.) When they transfer you to the room for the colonoscopy, the nurses flurry around, but you don't care. You lie down all cozy on your side and dream of creme brule.

The Doc arrives, your almost out, you might feel a little uncomfortableness when that tube starts traveling in the back door. Just say ''ow'' if you feel it and they'll increase the dream tonic. I had to have a polyp removed but would have never known it. Then you're done with that, they move you off the table and into an upright chair, tell you what they did or did not find, you get dressed, and they wheel you out like a drunkard, all groggy and giddy. Have someone that cares about you ready to pick you up and deposit you onto your couch. You can not drive, walk or take a bus. I really made a mountain out of a mole hill worrying about it and wasted time and energy that could have been better spent laughing, dancing, living. Don't fret too much - it's nowhere near as bad as our clever imaginations fear it to be. Colononymous

I'm 50 and had my colonoscopy a few months ago. Here's what happens: the day before, you have to fast, then in the evening you drink this stuff that gives you incredible diarrhea. The next day you go in for the procedure, then you go home and rest. Out of all of that, you know what's the worst? Drinking the stuff (not the results that it brings about). It tastes like sweetened dishwashing liquid, and you have to drink several liters of it. Ugh. But compared to that, the colonoscopy itself is no big deal, I swear. Sarah

Check w/ a therapist about your panic attacks. But the procedure isn't as bad as you think. The worst part is the prep. Take seriously the no solid food rqmt. And the stuff that you drink tastes bad, and within about an hour or so, you'll plan to spend the rest of the day relaxed, pretty close to a toilet, and with nobody but the people who love you in your immediate vicinity. You can stop drinking the stuff when everything runs clear, and you may develop a pretty strong dislike for the taste by the end of the day. when you're all done w/ the purge you take a warm bath and think about how nice it is to relax and go to sleep.

Take seriously the don't eat/don't drink thing the night before the procedure. Some people get nauseated if they eat/drink w/ anesthesia, and you shouldn't undergo it if you do eat/drink when you're not supposed to. (nor if you neglected to do the bowel cleansing the day before.) You'll potentially waste your time and everybody else's.

The procedure itself is completely anti-climactic. You'll be on conscious anesthesia, which means you'll be awake, but you really won't mind at all (I swear), and you won't feel a thing. The drugs they'll give you will be a combo of a sedative like Valium and an amnesiac, so you won't really remember the details, and an anesthetic so you won't feel any pain or discomfort. You'll watch your little colonoscopy movie while the doc tells you what he sees and you might even think, ''how interesting, I should remember this.'' and ''nice drugs.'' Not to sound weird, but it's quite peaceful. Then you get your clothes back on, somebody picks you up, and you spend the rest of the day sleeping, reading, whatever. Enforced relaxation, and absolutely no physical memory or pain at all. The weirdest thing is the doc telling you what's going on and there's no way you'll remember the details, even w/o the amnesiac, but for some reason the one I had still talked to me as though I would remember. And I tried. (I think it's so completely day-to-day blah-blah for them that they forget that even though the patient may be talking or asking questions, they are ON DRUGS.)

So don't worry about it. And this is coming from somebody who had her first at 46 because I had symptoms, and the doc found some precancerous polyps (snip snip, all gone, no pain, no worries). And I get to go back this year.... It's MUCH easier than worrying about colon cancer. Relax.

It's really not that bad, they have drugs that will make you feel no pain. The prep is not pleasant, but the procedure itself is no big deal and IV anxiety meds are pretty standard. I would recommend doing the tablet preparation versus the liquid, if your doctor will give you a choice. Been there, done that

Colonoscopy Prep Alternatives

March 2007

Unlike many people who've posted to various BPN lists, I don't have any particular anxiety about a colonoscopy, but I do have irrational dread of the prep process due to embarrassing childhood incidents involving diarrhea. (Yes, I've had intestinal illnesses as an adult, but there's something about deliberately inducing that result...) Wondering if anyone has ever found any other sort of prep, such as fasting, to be effective? I really want to have the test, but can't seem to get past the first step and I've put it off too long. Embarrassed

I've had about five colonoscopies in the past 15 years (I'm 36) and, so far, the only prep seems to be the intentional ''whooshing out'' of the system. Fortunately, now there is a series of pills you can take to induce it, rather than drinking what feels like gallons of that horrible solution. I don't think fasting would do it. They need the intestinal walls to be really clean so they can see everything clearly. If it's any consolation, once it starts, it really doesn't take very long - maybe a couple of hours. And that's the worst part about it - the procedure itself is a piece of cake. Good luck! anon

Fasting won't clean the colon as thoroughly as the yucky drink they give you does. Nor does an enema. You have to fast anyway..or just drink broth. The colon really needs to be ''squeeky clean'' so they can get a good look at the tissue inside and be able to see all the nooks and crannys(technical term). I would recommend that you plan on being home the evening before so that you are near a bathroom. I know people have complained that it's horrible....I thought it wasn't THAT horrible. Just inconvenient and the drink isn't all that pleasant but certainly do-able. It's only one evening...just prepare for it adn get it done. Good luck. anon

Not having any traumatic childhood experiences with Big D, I'm not sure I can relate to your psychological issues directly... but for me, the biggest problem was choking down that awful, awful stuff that you have to drink which turns solids into liquids. Even now, years later, the memory of that taste makes me gag. If I had to do it over again, I would put that liquid in the fridge and make it cold as possible, and then, when I had to drink it, I would numb my mouth with ice first, THEN drink the liquid. This only ocurred to me AFTER the fact. Good luck... and get a magazine to read on the pot... you'll be there a while. kevin

I would rather die from colon cancer than ever go through that again! The colonoscopy itself was nothing. The prep nearly killed me. I weigh 105 lbs and couldn't handle the ''emptying''. I think it's wrong that they precribe the same amount of liquid to drink for everyone (like a 200 lb person drinks the same amount as me!) I went into convulsions right there on the toilet, all alone at home. It was the frreakiest thing that ever happened to me. I also have a friend who started bleeding from all his orfices during the prep. The emergency hospital where he ended up diagnosed him as ''overdosed'' HELLO? They prescribed the prep to drink!!!! If they dont' have an alternative before the next time I need a colonoscopy, I ain't going!!!! Sorry this is not good advice, but I don't advise drinking that prep stuff!!!!

I somehow missed the original question but when I saw the answer posted on April 19th I felt I should chime in. I have had a colonoscopy and no, it's not fun. I did however, do a fair amount of research online as well as speaking with everyone I knew who had had one. There are numbers of preps out there. I knew that I would not be able to do the one where you drink a gallon of fluid. I went with fleet phosphate. It's 1 1/2 ounces of not pleasant liquid. You drink half in the morning, and half in the afternoon. I also took 2 ducolax tablets. Both of these are over the counter. When I first spoke with my gastro guy he was ready to prescribe the regular gallon drink but I simply said, no I want to do the phosphate. He said fine. I think Doctors and Dentist just get in a mode and don't take the time, don't have the time, whatever, to go over what will and will not work for each individual.When you drink the phosphate suck on a lemon, it kills the taste. Drink LOTS of hydrating fluids, (gatorade etc.)as I said, no fun, but beats the possible alternative. been there

Where to go for a colonoscopy?

Feb 2007

I've turned 50 and am ready to make an appointment for the dreaded colonoscopy (sigh). I only see one or two names and old recommendations in the archives. Can anyone recommend a great gastroenterologist who's an expert colonoscopist (?) ? Could be in the East Bay or SF. And if you have anything encouraging (or just informative) to say about enduring the horrible preparation and procedure, that would be appreciated, too. -- dreading it but determined

I had one about six months ago by:
Silvia Villagomez, M.D. 3300 Webster St., Ste. 312 Oakland, California 94609 Phone: (510) 444-3297
The procedure was performed at a veritable colonoscopy factory in the Rotunda in downtown Oakland. If you can judge by volume, they know their stuff.

Dr. Villagomez was everything I hoped for -- businesslike, gentle, thorough (she made it to the top of my colon), and she honored my request to go light on the drugs (I was breastfeeding). (I also found it great to be back on my feet right afterward, instead of groggy all day like those heavily drugged.)

The procedure itself was incredibly easy, and I was awake for it -- many people are basically unconscious. Don't worry for a second about it. The preparation, well -- it's many hours of explosive and uncontrollable diarrhea, so it is messy and unpleasant. At least it doesn't hurt, like the flu does. Stock your bathroom with magazines and be prepared to hang out there. I had to have mine at 36, and as they found three pre-cancerous polyps, I have to go back in three years. anon

Sorry, I don't have any local recommendations (did mine in Minneapolis), but I can speak to the prep and procedure part. My partner and I agree that the prep is most unpleasant! It's been seven or eight years, and I can finally think of Fleet's Ginger Phospho-Soda without gagging. Yuck, Yuck, YUCK. But the idea of drinking a gallon of GoLightly or whatever it's called sounds even worse. Maybe they've come up with a more palatable prep since I did it!

But having gone through all that, the actual procedure was relatively a breeze. You should be under conscious sedation, a.k.a. more or less in Happy Land. You may be able to watch on the monitor while they do the procedure, if you've ever wanted to see your insides. And although it wasn't fun and pleasurable, the only discomfort I experienced was some minor cramping-type pains when they turned the sharp corner from one part of the bowel to the next. Not a big deal. You will probably be required to have someone there to take you home because of the sedation--taxis are usually not an option. Good luck! Been there, done that, not looking forward to the next one!

I'm sorry I can't remember the name of the doc who did my colonoscopy, but I would like to reassure you about the procedure. The worst part is the prep the day or two before (not painful, just the ''ick'' factor.). The procedure itself is a piece of cake. You don't feel much at all, and it's sort of interesting to watch the TV picture as the procedure is done. anon

I can ditto the recommendation for Dr. Silvia Villagomez. She has performed four colonoscopies on me and is always extraordinarily pleasant. Once I think there was a miscommunication in her office, which delayed getting results to me, but I have always found her manner to be very pleasant and responsive to my needs. After one colonoscopy (my third) she found a polyp she could not remove because of its shape and location. I subsequently had a colon resection to remove it, at which time it was found to be cancerous. When my surgeon couldn't give me the biopsy results in a timely manner (due to surgery) he had her come and tell me the cancer had not spread. She came immediately upon his request. I now have colonoscopies yearly as I have a genetic predisposition toward colon cancer.

There are several different preps. The one that is most comprehensive is the gallon jug. You don't need to drink it all, but most by the time you are ''cleansed.'' It is the drinking that is the hardest part for me. The cleansing of your bowels is not at all painful, just a nuisance. Follow the drinking instructions closely. If you have the jug stuff, keep it cold and ice it when you drink it. Add the flavor packet. It goes down better that way.

The procedure itself is not difficult, although I usually require heavy sedation as I am very sensitive to the sensations and she cannot complete the procedure otherwise. This is because I have adhesions, so my colon is not as flexible as most. When this first happened, she stopped the procedure and sent me to have a barium enema (total torture). When that identified a polyp she then had me back for another colonoscopy with the heavy sedation, demonstrating her thoroughness. Get your colonoscopy! Having mine by chance before the age of 50 saved my life. Had it not happened until I was 50 I would probably be dealing with stage 4 cancer. Anyone reading this, make sure you get a colonoscopy as soon as you hit 50, earlier if there's a history of colon cancer anywhere in your family, even a 1st cousin, or even a parent who gets it in their senior years. Colon cancer can be prevented with vigilance. Colonoscopy pro

I'm not writing with a practitioner recommendation, but just to say how surprised I've been that everyone responding seems to say that they were sedated for the procedure. I've had 2 of them (at Kaiser) with no medication of any kind and it was very easy both times. The pre-precedure prep, as everyone has said, was yucky, the procedure was uncomfortable (it does feel weird), and I might have said (not screamed!) ouch a couple of times, but I didn't experience anything that I would call pain. I'm not stoic about pain by any means, but it is possible that I'm more relaxed about medical procedures in general than the average person. If the thought of a colonoscopy doesn't make you highly anxious, I'd ask about having it unmedicated. Maybe the docs just routinely sedate patients to prevent them from being troublesome! Cece

I just wanted to comment about sedation being unnecessary for a colonoscopy. I had an unsedated colonoscopy over a decade ago and had a bad experience. While I'm sure some people do just fine without sedation, I was not one of them. I've since had other colonoscopies with sedation and it was a piece of cake. I do agree that sedated or not, get the colonoscopy! One just saved my good friend's life, and I had a polyp removed before it turned cancerous. Colon cancer is almost 100% preventable with timely colonoscopies. The prep is yucky but really not a big deal, and the procedure, with sedation, is completely painless. All in all, a great deal to almost completely prevent a killer disease. -scoped

I missed the original post, but I can recommend Dr. Neil Stollman in Oakland. He was very professional and I felt well cared for before, during and after by both him and the rest of the staff. Checked out fine

What was your experience with getting a colonoscopy?

April 2006

I am curious as to others' experiences with this procedure, especially with the different methods of cleansing; drinking 67 ounces of the powdered liquid vs. 1 1/2 ounces of fleet phososoda two times. Is one easier than the other, etc. Did you experience nausau or vomiting - with which one. Were you sedated or consciously sedated. How did you feel afterwards. Also, who was your physician and where did you have it done. How was the overall experience.
not looking forward to doing this

Oh my gosh. Talk about memories. It will be interesting to see how many posts this one gets. I did the powder. No vomiting. No nausea. It was really, really boring & hard to drink so much liquid, but I thought the cleaning-out process (so to speak) was pretty gentle. I would recommend the tangiest flavor possible. I used the orange and it tasted kind of glutinous towards the end, but I think maybe they all do. FYI, I found it harder to be on the clear diet the day before (beef bouillon cube after cube after cube) than I did drinking the solution. I would recommend as early an appointment as possible for the colonoscopy itself since you have to avoid liquids for X hours before and I was REALLY thirsty when it was over. That glass of apple juice they gave me was the most delicious thing I have tasted in my life. I chose to be awake during the procedure, but I remember going ''ooh'' at one point, and the anesthesiologist must have put me right under, because I don't remember anything else until I woke up in the recovery room. I had Dr. Bernstein with Gastroenterology Associates. Office on Regent Street in Berkeley; procedures performed off-site at a very nice facility near the train station in Emeryville. And, don't fret. It's really not that bad -- although I can't say I'm necessarily looking forward to another one in 8 years or so.

I saw Thomas Hargrave, Oakland, who does colonoscopies and endoscopies at an outpatient center in downtown Oakland; he has a nice, light touch.

I only experienced the 64-ounce laxative that tastes like heavy liquid Jell-O--not the greatest stuff in the world, but not nauseating. The conscious sedation went well for me, and I actually found watching the journey through my bowels kind of interesting. (Good drugs, obviously!) No pain, and no bad after-effects; my husband drove me home and brought me soup and crackers in bed, and I took it easy for the rest of the day.

The down side: Having to spend four hours drinking the laxative and hanging out in the bathroom. Being REAL hungry by the time the procedure was over. Also, I was kept waiting quite a while at the outpatient center (but the staff was very kind).

In sum, the experience was better than I thought it might be; the laxative part was the worst, and not that bad, either. Anonymous

I had a colonoscopy about four years ago and the most unpleasant parts were drinking a gallon of the cleansing drink (yuck) and the migraine headache I got from being dehydrated...coupled with a lack of a.m. caffeine.

If you drink a lot of coffee, I would recommend backing off of it gradually a few days before the procedure. My head was splitting by the time they finally started prepping me.

I can't remember what they gave me to sedate me...but I do recall being in and out during the procedure. I didn't feel anything. The procedure itself was no problem and I felt fine afterwards. I've had a sigmoidoscopy (spelling?)and found it to be FAR worse.

Goodluck -- it really is not that bad. Annon

I have had 3 colonoscopies so far, all with Dr. Frank Farrell at UCSF whom I would highly recommend. I'm not sure about the specific cleansing methods you mention. Mine was a gallon of Gatorade with Miralax dissolved in it, plus some Dulcolax. I didn't get very nauseous although I have avoided Gatorade since then! The Miralax really beats the older prescription, I forgot what the name was but it tasted metallic and that did make me very nauseous and I vomited a lot.

I was sedated and I'm not sure how heavy the sedation was supposed to be- one out of the three times I was barely conscious, the other two times I was out completely. The after- effects were mostly from the sedation. The only other after- effect I had was A LOT of farting- since they use gas to inflate your colon to take a look. You can eat immediately after the procedure.

No one really looks forward to a colonoscopy- but it is much better than the alternative (having a problem, like cancer, and not knowing about it). Plus, as you probably have heard, if it turns out you do have a polyp or something else, the dr. will remove it immediately. Good luck and feel free to email me directly if you have more questions. cachien [at]

Although a rather embarrassing process - a colonoscopy just isn't that bad. I have had two, each by a different doctor. I didn't use either of the cleansing methods you mentioned, so I can't comment there. The process itself is just something to get through - it doesn't hurt (say as much as a mammogram which I find really painful). I didn't have any after-effects at all. That's my experience - like everything else it is probably different from person to person. anon

I had mine done at Kaiser. I was partially sedated. I even asked for a monitor to watch, but I fell asleep. I do remember a little discomfort when they had to reposition as the scope worked its way up, but they gave me a picture of my polyp for my efforts!

On a scale of 1-10 I give it a 3. There's no pain, really, it's just uncomfortable. Feels kind of like stomach cramps. I was not nauseated, did not throw up. I did the fleet. I think it's just salt water. You'll be fine - just breathe! the polyp

Hi, I had a colonoscopy as well as an endoscopy several years ago when I was 49 or so. For the colonoscopy I drank the phosphosoda twice. That was probably the worst part of the whole procedure! You'll not be able to stray far from the bathroom during that phase. I was supposedly partially awake during the actual colonoscopy, but I remember absolutely NOTHING about it except the tech. telling me that the drug I was about to get tended to give an amnesiac effect. The next thing I remember is waking up in my paper ''socks'' and getting dressed to leave. I had the procedure done at Mercy General in Sacramento. Don't worry about it; it was a piece of cake. Elaine

I've had two colonoscopy exams and will be taking them more often than most people due to family history of colon cancer. The first was the massive quantity of liquid, the 2nd the lesser amount.

Go for the lesser. Both do the same thing - cramps, bloating, etc. Both taste ''not nice''. But having to spend HOURS drinking xx oz. every 10-15 min... I still shudder.

The degree to which either solution ''hits you'' - well, different reactions for different bodies - but considering what the solution is doing to your body, yeah, you're going to feel pretty lousy. No way round it.

I fell asleep during the procedure and didn't feel a thing. Afterwards... bit crampy, bloated, but felt better sooner than I expected. Something rather bizarre about hiding behind your little curtain in the recovery room, being told by the nurse that one must pass gas before being allowed to leave... The doctor's name - can't find it handy. Had it done at some ''colonscopy center'' in Emeryville (though the doctor's office is near Alta Bates. But the important thing is the result - all clear. All Clean

I had my first colonoscopy 3 months ago. Everything went fine but I was very nervous and put it off for a while. My doctor was Lisa Higa. You have to wait for a while to get in to see her so make an appointment now. I drank the smaller amount of stuff. I can't imagine drinking a gallon of stuff. Get an appointment earky in the day so you don't have to wait so long to eat again. I was sedated through an IV, and fell asleep for a brief time. You can email me if you have any more questions. Good luck with it.

Hi, I just took my mom to the doctor for this yesterday. She drank the liquid. She did not enjoy the experience, but said it wasn't awful. She vomitted once, but it wasn't painful - just very unpleasant. As for the procedure, she was sedated. It was all very easy and quick. Once it was over, she was drowsy and slept for about 3 hours. She had mild cramping afterwards. But she said it didn't hurt. All in all, it wasn't a too bad an experience. The worst of it was drinking the liquid and not being able to eat for hours prior to the procedure. anon

I agree with earlier posts that the prep is far worse than the procedure. I just had my second colonoscopy last month, and for the first time was given pills to take with water -- not phosphosoda or some other vile pseudo-drink. Four large pills with a large glass of water every 15 minutes for a total of 5 sessions the day before, then a couple more sessions in the morning of the procedure day. WAY better than forcing down the vile stuff. Smile for the Camera!

East Bay place to get a colonoscopy

July 2005

hi. i want to get a colonoscopy. can anyone recommend someone who is very good in the East Bay, including the Lamorinda area. thanks. Patsy

I had a colonoscopy and an endoscopy done a week ago with Dr. Silvia Villagomez (444-3297) whose office is in Oakland in front of Summit Hospital. She was HIGHLY recommended to me by general practitioner. She was gentle, caring and attentive. Although it was initially difficult to get an appointment, I managed to get one when she had a cancelation for the appointment and for the colonoscopy. Based on my experience and the referral I had, I highly recommend her. Good luck!

I just had one today at Kaiser Oakland--no complaints. Before I was with Kaiser, I had two in Oakland/Emeryville performed by Dr. Michael Silpa, and I highly recommend him. His office is on Regent Street in Berkeley, but these procedures are all performed at a clinic in Emeryville that is fairly new and very nice.

If you've never had one before, I think the most important thing is to get someone who is experienced in the procedure. The worst part BY FAR is the prep--which consists of drinking a huge jug of awful stuff to clean you out. Once you've managed to get that stuff down, the rest is easy! You will be semi-- woozy thanks to the wonderful dose of demerol you'll get, but I do recommend trying to stay awake so that you can watch it on the TV. It's pretty cool! Good luck! anon

Getting a colonoscopy at 50 vs. a sigmoidoscopy

Aug 2003

Having recently turned 50, my Dr. gave me a referral for a sigmoidoscopy. Many people have told me I should get a colonoscopy, that it's much more complete, and though it's a longer procedure, you're sedated so it's actually more comfortable to have done.

It makes sense to me to have the colonoscopy done instead, however, I'm a Kaiser member and they will not schedule a colonos. as routine, I'd have to have a new referral from my Dr. and usually a good reason for one, like colon cancer in the immediate family, etc.

I'd like opinions from those of you who have had to make that choice, and from health care professionals. I could likely get my Dr. to refer me for a colonoscopy....what to do. Thanks,....not looking forward to thtis. anon please

I've had a sigmoidoscopy twice since I was 40 (I'm 49 now) and I recently had an endoscopy, which is essentially the same as a colonoscopy in terms of sedation, prep. I do have relatives with colon cancer, but, as I understand it, most health plans cover a full colonoscopy at age 50 for everyone, with or without a higher risk of colon cancer. I wanted to let you know that I too was not looking forward to the endoscopy, but that I was pretty much ''out'' during the procedure. I feel you should go and have the colonoscopy; you'll feel relieved knowing that there is nothing wrong with you afterward. Elaine

The recommendation, now (and as it should have always been), by the American Academy of Gastroenterology is that one forego the sigmoidoscopy in favor of a colonoscopy. Sig. only images about 50% of the colon, meaning that if you have a tumor or pre-cancerous polyps in the remaining part of the colon, you could bein trouble. Sadly enough, I know of more than one scenario and a current scenario of someone who is dying of colon cancer and who had a sigmoidoscopy, religiously, bi-annually. You would be justified in fabricating that there is a history of colon cancer in the family in order to access a colonoscopy Good for you for knowing the advantage of a colonoscopy over a sigmoidoscopy. And good luck with getting Kaiser to allow a colonoscopy.