Colonoscopy Questions and Answers

Colonoscopy doctor Raquel Bueno and staff.

Dr. Racquel Bueno and Cheryl Cudiamat, two of the colonoscopy professionals at Endoscopy Institute of Hawaii.

At the Endoscopy Institute of Hawaii, we strive to make your colonoscopy experience as pleasant and worry-free as possible. When done, many patients often remark how easy it was to go through the procedure.

We’ve compiled some answers to frequently asked questions about having a colonoscopy and why it is so important to your health. If you have further questions or want to schedule your screening colonoscopy, please give us a call at 808-312-6700.

We look forward to helping you at Honolulu’s most advanced endoscopy  and colonoscopy facility.

Frequently Asked Questions


What is a “colonoscopy” and what happens during the procedure?

Colonoscopy, or lower endoscopy, is a screening exam that is often used to look for colorectal cancer or cancer of the colon. Misconceptions and modesty have scared many people away from this procedure that saves lives through early detection of colorectal and other cancers of the digestive system.

At the Endoscopy Institute of Hawaii, a colonoscopy is done in a room specially equipped with the most advanced cameras and optical equipment available in Hawaii.

The doctor uses a thin, flexible, lighted tube that has a tiny video camera called a colonoscope to look at the inside of the entire colon and rectum of the patient. The doctor is looking for polyps (small growths) or signs of cancer.

The colonoscope can detect cancer-causing polyps.

The colonoscope can detect polyps that could develop into colon cancer.

The colonoscope is gently eased inside the colon where it sends images to a video monitor. Small amounts of air are pumped into the colon to keep it open so that the doctor can get the best images. The air pressure may cause some discomfort and cramping, but it should not hurt.

Patients are given medicines to help them relax and sleep during the procedure. The exam itself takes about 30 minutes, and is usually not painful.

After the procedure, the patient rests in a comfortable, semi-private recovery area monitored by trained medical staff.

Your doctor will recommend how often you should have a colonoscopy.  It is usually once every 10 years, depending on your risk of colon cancer. We recommend you talk with your doctor to understand your risk for colon cancer, the guidelines you should follow for testing, and whether you need to start having the exams at age 50 or earlier.

You can call the Endoscopy Institute of Hawaii directly to schedule an appointment at our Honolulu clinic.  There is no need to go through a primary care provider.

How do I prepare? Will I need to miss work?

Preparation for colonoscopy makes you go to the bathroom a lot! In order for the doctor to see the inside of your rectum and colon clearly and get good images, your bowels need to be as clean as possible. You may need to follow a special diet for one or more days before the exam and take very strong laxatives before the procedure. You may also need enemas to further clean your colon.

Your doctor or specialist at the Endoscopy Institute of Hawaii will give you instructions. Read them carefully a few days ahead of time, since you may need to shop for special supplies, laxatives and enemas from a pharmacy.

On the preparation day, you will need to be near your bathroom as soon as you start the laxatives. If any of the instructions are not clear or you do not understand them, call the doctor’s office or the Endoscopy Institute of Hawaii and go over them step-by-step with the medical staff.

Because colonoscopy is usually done with drugs that make you sleepy, most people miss work the day of the exam.  In addition, because you will need to stay close to a bathroom the day before and on the morning of your colonoscopy, you might want to schedule the exam the day after a regularly scheduled day off, so you can be at home the day before without taking an extra day off.

How will I feel afterward? Will I need someone to drive me home?

Most people feel OK after a colonoscopy. After your procedure is completed, you will be taken to another room where one of our nurses will ensure your comfort. You may feel a bit woozy from the sedatives. You may have some gas, which could cause mild discomfort.

Because of the sedatives given for the exam, the Endoscopy Institute of Hawaii does not allow patients to drive, so you will need someone to take you home.

What if they find something?

If a small polyp is found, your doctor will probably remove it. Over time some polyps could turn into cancer.  If your doctor sees a large polyp, a tumor, or anything else abnormal, a biopsy will be done. For the biopsy, part or all of the polyp or abnormal area is taken out through the colonoscope. The sample will be sent to a lab to be checked under a microscope for cancer or pre-cancerous cells.  Having a biopsy of the colon does not hurt.

Do I really need a colonoscopy?

Colorectal cancer screening helps people stay well and saves lives. Regular colon cancer screening is one of the most effective ways for preventing colorectal cancer by finding it early, when it is easier to treat.

Removing polyps can help prevent colorectal cancer from ever starting.  Cancers found at an early stage, while they are small and before they have spread, are more easily treated. Ninety percent of patients whose colon cancer is discovered early will still be alive 5 years later, and many will live a normal life span.

Regular screening, including colonoscopy, is necessary to find these cancers in the early stages. Too often people don’t get screened, and the cancer grows and spreads without being noticed. In its early stages, colon cancer doesn’t usually have symptoms.  In most cases, by the time people have symptoms, the cancer is advanced and difficult to treat.

As with most medical exams, complications are possible. Some can be serious — for instance, bleeding and puncture of the colon — but they are very uncommon.

At the Endoscopy Institute of Hawaii, in Honolulu, you will be cared for by well-trained, qualified, and respected professionals who specialize in this procedure. You will be monitored at every phase of the exam in the most advanced facility for colonoscopy in Hawaii.

More Information


You can read more about specific gastrointestinal diseases and procedures at these websites:

Our support staff can help you understand digestive diseases and treatment optionsNational Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC)

This Information Clearinghouse is a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health. This is an excellent source of the latest information on digestive diseases and treatments.

MedlinePlus: Digestive Diseases

A service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health, this website brings you information about diseases, conditions, and wellness issues. Contains the latest treatments, information on drugs and supplements, medical definitions, videos and illustrations.