Preparing Your Child for Their Colonoscopy

This short animation will help you and your child prepare for your upcoming colonoscopy visit with CHOP. It will help your child know what to expect on the day of their appointment, who and what they will see, and what will happen before, during, and after their visit.


Preparing Your Child for Their Colonoscopy

Maya: Hi, I'm Maya and I hear you're going to have a colonoscopy at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. I'm here to tell you a little more about it so it doesn't seem scary. A colonoscopy is a procedure where the doctors use a special camera to look inside your intestines. There are lots of reasons that children get a colonoscopy.

Do you know why you're getting one? Preparing for your colonoscopy starts the day before the procedure. You won't be able to have anything to eat on this day, but you will be able to drink clear liquids, such as water, apple juice, or white grape juice. You can drink clear liquids up to an hour before you come to the hospital.

After that, you won't be able to eat or drink until after the procedure. I know that can be hard, but it will help the doctors to be able to see inside your body and you can have something to eat as soon as you are finished. The nurses may even bring you a snack. I got a popsicle. Before your appointment, the doctors will also prescribe medications that will help clean out any poop in your body.

It is very important to follow the medication instructions. One medication is a special drink where you mix will MiraLax with Gatorade. You will have to drink it pretty fast and be sure to finish it in at least eight hours before your procedure is scheduled. You can try to make a game out of it, like watching your favorite TV show and drinking when the commercials come on.

I tried to drink one cup every 15 minutes. If your stomach starts to hurt or you feel like you might throw up, just take a break for a little bit and try again. Remember, this medication is really important for the doctors to be able to do your procedure. It will make you have to go to the bathroom a lot and that's okay.

Don't be surprised if your poop starts to look different too. You are ready for the procedure when your poop looks clear and watery.

When you get to the hospital, you will check-in in the waiting room and the nurse will come get you when it's your turn. The nurse will bring you and your family back to the room where you will get ready for your procedure. You'll have your height and weight taken before you get changed into hospital pajamas.

They are pretty comfortable and make it easier for the doctors and nurses to help you. A nurse will take your temperature and listen to your heart and lungs with a stethoscope. The nurse checks the oxygen in your body with the pulse oximeter. The pulse oximeter looks like a bandaid with a red light on it and goes on one of your fingers.

The nurse will also check your blood pressure by placing a blood pressure cuff on your arm. These are called vital signs and help the nurses and doctors know all about your body. Nurses and doctors will also ask a lot of questions to gain more information about you, such as: when was the last time you ate and if you have any loose teeth. All of this information helps the doctors to take great care of you and keep you safe during your procedure.

Everyone is here to help you and you can ask any question you might have. You will also need a doctor called an anesthesiologist whose job is to give your body sleepy medicine, called anesthesia, during your procedure. Anesthesia is a medicine that helps you sleep during your procedure so you do not hear, feel or see anything.

She will stay with you and make sure that you stay asleep through your whole procedure. Once you've met the doctors and nurses that will be taking care of you, the nurse will bring you into a procedure room like this one. Your parents will be able to come with you into this room as you fall asleep. You will see the lights hanging from the ceiling and many computer screens called monitors.

You will also see several nurses and doctors. They're all there to take care of you during your procedure. What else do you see?

Next the doctors and nurses will put stickers on your chest to count your heartbeat, a blood pressure cuff around your arm or leg that will give a tight squeeze, a pulse ox on your finger or toe to measure your breathing, and a seatbelt across your waist. The anesthesiologist will give you sleepy medicine, or anesthesia, to breath through a soft mask over your nose and mouth. During a colonoscopy, a thin flexible tube with a camera on the end is inserted into the bottom, you know, where the poop comes out. This camera is called a colonoscope, or a scope, for short. It is used to look at the large intestines, also called the colon, and the portion of the small intestines called the terminal ileum. A video camera in the scope provides images onto a TV-like monitor. Along with the images taken with the camera, doctors can also collect small samples of tissue for testing that you won't even feel. These are called biopsies. When your procedure is finished, the anesthesiologist will stop giving you sleepy medicine and you will wake up in the recovery room with your family and a nurse. You may have a bit of a sore throat and feel gassy, but that is normal and quickly goes away.

You may notice a thin tube in your hand or arm. This is an IV. IV is short for intravenous, which means into the vein, and that is where it goes. You got medicine and fluid through the IV during the procedure. It'll be taken out before you go home. When you are feeling ready, you may have something to eat or drink.

Once you're fully awake and able to walk on your own, you can go home. Try to take it easy for the rest of the day. Maybe take a nap or watch a movie.

Related Centers and Programs: Kohl's GI Nutrition and Diagnostic Center, Family Learning Center, Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, Very Early Onset Inflammatory Bowel Disease (VEO-IBD) Program, Suzi and Scott Lustgarten Center for GI Motility, Center for Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Program for Precision Diagnosis and Therapy for Pediatric Motility Disorders