One of the best tools in a doctor’s arsenal for evaluating chronic abdominal pain for possible colitis is a colonoscopy. While the thought of a colonoscopy makes many people uncomfortable, the procedure is relatively quick and painless.

What is Colitis?

  • Colitis is when there is inflammation in the colon, often autoimmune or infectious.”

Preparation for the Colonoscopy Procedure to Diagnose Colitis

This is a patient’s recounting of her sister in laws’s colonoscopy:

Recently my sister in law, Susan*, was scheduled to have an colonoscopy after enduring years of chronic abdominal pain, which her doctor felt could be caused by colitis. She was given medicine to drink the day before the colonoscopy procedure to help cleanse her system and she could not eat anything for approximately 24 hours before the colonoscopy procedure. Susan had to drink a glass of this medicine every 10 minutes until she had finished a gallon of a liquid that she described as salty, but without a bad taste.

She had to drink a glass of this mixture every 10 minutes, which meant she was constantly drinking for about 2-3 hours. After about the third glass, she started to feel the cleansing effects and started making regular visits to the bathroom. Although tedious and annoying, Susan felt this preparation was a small inconvenience to determine if she had colitis. For the rest of the evening, Susan felt no pain from the medicine.

My sister in law was able to rest comfortably most of the night, except for a few trips to the bathroom. The next morning, we were off to the hospital for the colonoscopy procedure. Susan was a bit anxious regarding the procedure and the potential colitis diagnosis, but was not in any pain.

Hospital Preparation for the Colonoscopy

At Susan’s appointment time, a nurse came to insert a line into the side of her hand that would be used to administer anesthesia. After about 15 minutes, they called Susan back for the colonoscopy procedure that would potentially diagnosis colitis. They allowed me to observe from a chair in the corner of the procedure room.

Susan was instructed to change into the standard stylish hospital gown and remove all shoes and clothing. After she changed, they had her lie on her left side on a hospital bed. The anesthesiologist sat close to Susan’s head and attached a pulse monitoring devise on her middle finger.

The anesthesiologist then hooked Susan up to the nose plug type of oxygen. After a few minutes of oxygen, the anesthesiologist placed some medication into the line on her hand. The medicine took effect almost immediately. Within five minutes, the anesthesiologist nodded to the doctor that they could begin the colonoscopy procedure to diagnosis colitis.

What Kind of Equipment is Used?

The machine used for the colonoscopy procedure to diagnosis colitis starts with a regular looking TV on a cart that contains a machine with an insuflator, as well as a vacuum pump and a place to insert the colonoscope hookup line. The colonoscope line is a long hose with two lights and a camera embedded in the front and measurements listed along the line. This long line is attached to the machine on the cart and an additional line is directed towards a glass container.

Once Susan was under light anesthesia, the doctor began the colonoscopy procedure and to look for potential signs of colitis. The doctor turned on the machine and it sounded like a light powered vacuum cleaner. They greased the colonoscopy line and a nurse assisted the doctor in inserting the line into Susan’s rectum.

Immediately you could see images on the screen and the doctor slowly worked the line through the large intestines, the small intestines and finally to the abdominal area. Throughout the entire colonoscopy procedure, the doctor carefully examined the lining and connections, looking for any inflammation, polyps, or unusual spots that can be indicative of colitis. At times the doctor would use the vacuum to clear an area for better viewing and the fluids were deposited into the glass container.A few times during the colonoscopy procedure, the doctor took photos for reference and for discussing the potential signs of colitis with Susan after the procedure was completed.


After about 15 minutes they removed the colonoscope and the anesthesiologist began to wake up Susan. They called her name several times and shook her gently on the shoulder. She was groggy, but woke up quickly. The anesthesiologist took out the oxygen and they had Susan lie on her back. She immediately asked how long the colonoscopy procedure had lasted and whether she had colitis.

She was astonished it had only been 15 minutes. She stated she had a very vivid dream about work and did not remember anything after lying on the bed. For a few minutes after the colonoscopy procedure was finished, she had double vision, but within 10 minutes she was sitting up. Dr. Tarugu the Doctor who performed the colonoscopy procedure spoke to Susan briefly and explained what the procedure discovered regarding possible colitis.

The doctor also told her to expect a little discomfort for a few hours because of a buildup of air that is pumped into the abdomen during the colonoscopy procedure. Susan was able to dress and was able to walk out of the colonoscopy procedure room 20 minutes after she woke up. Fortunately, the procedure indicated that her problem was not colitis, but her abdominal pain was caused by a sensitivity to coniferous vegetables and she could easily change her diet and take some over the counter medicine to manage her symptoms.


The colonoscopy procedure to diagnosis colitis is quick and painless, but the preparation does require time and close proximity to the bathroom.