First you have a detailed discussion with a gastroenterologist about your symptoms, medications you're taking, allergies, and eventual contraindications for colonoscopy. Often beforte colonoscopy (not on the same day) an X-ray with barium enema is made to get a rough picture of the colon.
Doctor wil probably give you written instructions about how to prepare (1-2 days of special colon cleansing diet..). Before colonoscopy you will probably get an injection of a sedative into your arm vein that will make you drowsy. You will be lying on the examining table, doctor will insert colonoscope (about 1 cm thick flexible viewing tube with a camera and a light on the end) through your anus and proceed it to the end of the small intestine. From ther he will slowly pull a colonoscope out and observe the lining (mucosa) of your colon and rectum for eventual abnormalities.
Cost depends on your insurance and may be from zero to $1,000 with insurance and up to $3,000 if you don't have insurance.
If you're otherwise healthy, colonoscopy is generally a safe procedure. In mosrt cases it is also not painful. You may experience some cramping. Gastroenterologist will be likely prepared to answer all your questions so just write them down and don't hesitate to ask him - including cost issues.
If a colonoscopy is decided then there needs to be some preparation for the procedure and hence there may be a few days gap between the consultation and the actual procedure. I recall my experiences as:-
- ~ 7 day interval between the decision to do it and the date of arrival at the hospital
- purgative/enema either on the day - or the day before
- nothing to eat for 24 hours prior - only water to drink
- arrive at the hospital (don't drive yourself) ~ 4 hours before
- blood pressure and other routine observations
- I.V. sedation just before the procedure
- then the procedure is carried out in a theatre with attending nurses (~30-40 minutes) - you don't feel or remember anything
- wake up and back to your hospital bed on a trolley
- recover for 2-3 hours (with a cup of tea and a smoked salmon sandwich if you are lucky!!)
- then go home if you feel OK. But no car driving for 24 hours
- early night and lots of rest on the same day.
There are risks as with any medical manipulation. Ask the doctor - but one of the main ones is accidental perforation of the intestines which, if it happens, would require an operation to repair the intestines. How often does it happen - I don't know but your doctor will. I would guess <1% of the time.
I live in the UK and everything is free here so I can't help you with the cost. I assume that you live in ther USA where lots of "noughts" are added to the cost of every medical invoice!!! My gut feel is that it would cost ~£1500 in the UK = approx $2500