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Preparing for Your Visit

The physicians at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center’s Digestive Health Institute perform procedures to help prevent, treat and manage gastrointestinal diseases and disorders. Although these methods are safe and effective, it is important to follow the instructions provided to ensure that your procedure goes smoothly.

How to Prepare
Regardless of your procedure, take the following steps to prepare:

  • Arrange for someone to drive you home, and keep your schedule free for the rest of the day to recuperate from your procedure and the sedation. After the procedure, do not attempt to drive, take a cab or use public transportation by yourself.
  • Inform your physician of any restrictive medical conditions or allergies.
  • Talk to your doctor about any medications you are taking. Bring a list of current medications, vitamin supplements and herbs with you to your procedure.
  • Please leave jewelry and valuables at home.

What to Expect
Before your procedure

  • Plan to arrive one hour prior to your scheduled appointment and check in at patient registration, located near the main hospital entrance. Have your photo ID, insurance cards and any physician referrals ready.
  • Your physician will explain the procedure and have you sign an informed consent form.
  • You will be asked to change into a hospital gown and put your personal items in a patient belonging bag.

After your procedure

  • After your physician has determined it is safe for you to be discharged, you may prepare to go home.
  • Your medical team will give you a discharge instruction sheet that includes important phone numbers.

Click on the tabs below for specifics on how to prepare and what to expect depending on what type of procedure you are having.

Colonoscopy

A colonoscopy is a method of inspecting the full length of the colon and rectum using a small camera attached to a long, flexible instrument called a colonoscope. This allows physicians to see inside the colon, perform biopsies, remove colon polyps and diagnose diseases and disorders associated with the gastrointestinal tract.

Learn more about colonoscopy.

How to Prepare

  • Follow your physician’s instructions for bowel preparation. Contact your physician’s office if you have not received the instructions at least four days prior to your procedure.

What to Expect

During the procedure

  • Patients are usually given twilight anesthesia, which causes you to be sedated but not unconscious.
  • You will be asked to lie on your left side or your back.
  • You may experience some cramping, bloating or pressure in your abdomen during the exam.
  • Your physician may take biopsies (small tissue samples) or remove polyps (growths on the lining of the colon).

After the procedure

  • Recovery time is approximately 30 to 45 minutes, during which you will be encouraged to pass gas to release the air that remains in your colon from the procedure.
  • Patients are usually allowed to eat immediately after the recovery period and are provided with juice or water and graham crackers.
  • You must have an escort present to accompany you home after the procedure.
  • You should not drive, operate machinery, return to work or do anything that requires full concentration until the next day.
  • Do not drink alcoholic beverages for 24 hours after the procedure.
  • Your physician will discuss the test results with you or call you the next day.

Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)

During a procedure called an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), your physician uses an endoscope to identify gallstones, tumors or narrowing of the bile ducts.

How to Prepare

  • You must refrain from eating for at least four hours before the test.

What to Expect

During the procedure

  • A mouth guard will be placed in your mouth to protect your teeth. If you have dentures, they will be removed.
  • You will be asked to lie on your stomach or on your left side for the test.
  • An IV will be placed in your arm, and sedatives will be administered through the IV.
  • A spray may be used to numb your throat.
  • Once the sedative takes effect, your physician inserts an endoscope through your mouth and guides it down the esophagus and through the stomach until it reaches your duodenum (the part of the small intestine that is closest to the stomach).
  • A thin tube called a catheter is inserted through the endoscope into the ducts that lead to the pancreas and gallbladder. Dye is introduced into these ducts and X-rays are taken, allowing your physician to identify stones, tumors and any areas that have become narrowed.
  • Instruments may be inserted through the endoscope to:
    • Open the entry of the ducts into the bowel
    • Expand narrowed segments of your bile ducts
    • Remove or crush stones
    • Take tissue samples
    • Drain blocked areas

After the procedure

  • You should not drive, operate machinery, return to work or do anything that requires full concentration until the next day.
  • Do not drink alcoholic beverages for 24 hours after the procedure.
  • Some people react to the dye or the drugs used to relax the duodenum, which can cause symptoms like nausea, hives, a burning sensation, blurred vision and urine retention. If you experience these side effects, contact your physician.
  • You may experience soreness in the throat for a few days following this procedure.

Sigmoidoscopy

A sigmoidoscopy is an internal inspection of the colon and rectum with a sigmoidoscope. This procedure is used to detect colorectal polyps, disease, obstructions and other problems.

How to Prepare

  • On the morning of the procedure, you should eat a light breakfast.
  • One hour before the procedure, you will need to use a cleansing enema.

Infants and children require different preparations as instructed by their physician. Check with your child’s doctor if your child needs a sigmoidoscopy.

What to Expect

During the procedure

  • You will be asked to lie on your left side with your knees pulled up toward your chest.
  • The gastroenterologist or surgeon will perform a digital rectal exam by gently inserting a gloved and lubricated finger into your rectum to check for blockage and to dilate (gently enlarge) the anus.
  • A hollow tube called a sigmoidoscope will be inserted into the rectum.
  • Air is introduced into the colon to expand the area and help the physician see better. You may feel as if you need to have a bowel movement when the air is introduced.
  • Your physician will move the sigmoidoscope toward your sigmoid colon or descending colon.
  • The hollow channel in the center of the scope allows your physician to insert forceps or other instruments for taking biopsies.
  • As the scope is slowly removed, your physician can carefully examine the lining of your bowel.

After the procedure

  • You will be encouraged to pass gas to release the air that remains in your colon from the procedure.

Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD)

Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) is a procedure that allows the physician to examine the lining of the esophagus, stomach and upper duodenum with a small camera attached to a flexible endoscope that is passed down your throat.

How to Prepare

  • For several days leading up to your exam, you should refrain from taking aspirin and other blood-thinning medications.
  • You must refrain from eating overnight prior to your procedure.

What to Expect

During the procedure

  • You will be asked to lie on your left side.
  • You will be given a sedative and a painkiller.
  • You may also receive intravenous sedation and a local oral anesthetic to minimize the reflex to cough or gag when the endoscope is inserted.
  • A mouth guard will be placed in your mouth to protect your teeth. If you have dentures, they will be removed.
  • After the sedatives have taken effect, your physician will move the endoscope through the esophagus into the stomach and duodenum. Air will be passed through the endoscope to help your physician see better.
  • Your physician will examine the lining of your esophagus, stomach and upper duodenum and take biopsies through the endoscope if necessary.
  • Your physician may stretch or widen a narrowed area of the esophagus and perform other treatments, if necessary.

After the procedure

  • You may feel bloated from the air introduced by the endoscope. This sensation will pass.
  • To prevent you from choking, your physician will restrict you from eating or drinking after the procedure until your gag reflex returns.
  • You must have an escort present to accompany you home after the procedure.
  • You should not drive, operate machinery, return to work or do anything that requires full concentration until the next day.
  • Do not drink alcoholic beverages for 24 hours after the procedure.

Contact Us
To learn more, for help finding a physician or to schedule an appointment call 1.800.3.ADVOCATE (1.800.323.8622). You can also find a physician and request an appointment online.


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