About the Direct Access Program

Our goal is to make access to screening colonoscopies easier – and save you time. The Direct Access Program identifies those adults who qualify for a screening colonoscopy without the need for a pre-procedure office visit. Based on your current medical condition and your answers to our questionnaire, you may be eligible to directly schedule your procedure without a physician consult.

Program Advantages

  • Secure questionnaire helps determine
    your eligibility.
  • Pre-existing conditions can be identified
    to ensure you receive the most
    appropriate care.
  • You save time and money (no office visit means no co-pay).
  • You get a potentially life-saving screening.
  • If you qualify, a representative from Atlanta Gastroenterology Associates (AGA) will contact you to schedule your procedure. If you do not qualify due to existing medical conditions, you will be contacted to set up an appointment with an AGA physician before your colonoscopy can be scheduled.

Why Get Screened

We know having a colonoscopy isn’t something people get excited about. But preventing colon cancer before it starts should be.

Colon cancer is ranked as the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S., and one in 20 people will develop it in their lifetime. But, when detected in its early stages during a colonoscopy, colon cancer is one of the most highly treatable and preventable cancers. In fact, research has shown that many colon cancer deaths could have been prevented with a screening.

When should you get screened? Because the risk of getting the disease increases with age, screening colonoscopies are recommended for every adult beginning at age 50 and at age 45 if you are African-American.* For those with a family history of the disease, or other risk factors, screening could start even earlier. For example, if a close family member – like a mother or father – was diagnosed with colon cancer at age 50, the children of those parents should get screened 10 years before – at age 40.

While there is evidence that more people are getting screened than in previous years,  one in three adults ages 50 or older are not being tested.

About Colonoscopies

A colonoscopy is considered the single best method for detecting and preventing colon cancer.

A colonoscopy is a procedure performed under light sedation that allows a trained gastroenterologist to look at the inner lining of your large intestine – or colon. The physician uses a thin, flexible, lighted instrument called a colonoscope to visually inspect your colon for inflamed tissue, ulcers, bleeding and any abnormal growths (polyps). Not all polyps found during a screening are pre-cancerous or cancerous, but over time, they can grow and become cancerous. So when polyps are found, they are removed at the same time to prevent cancer from forming.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do I need to do before the procedure?
Your colon must be completely empty for the colonoscopy to be thorough and safe. You will be on a clear liquid diet for at least one day before the procedure. Then you will be asked to drink a liquid solution – or ‘prep’ – that will flush the colon. This is a critical step in the process since the doctor must be able to see the entire colon during the procedure. A list of detailed instructions will be provided before your procedure.
How long does the procedure take?
The entire process – from check-in to check-out – typically takes about two hours. A colonoscopy itself usually takes about 25 to 30 minutes. You should plan to rest for several hours after the procedure.
What happens during the procedure?
On the day of the procedure you will be given light sedation to help you relax. You will be asked to lie on your left side on a bed. The physician will insert the colonoscope into your rectum and gently move it through your colon. There are several tiny instruments in the scope that help the physician during the procedure: one to inflate your colon for improved visibility; one to remove polyps or take biopsies; and one to flush the area clean. After the procedure, you may experience a little discomfort, like the feeling of having gas, but that soon subsides.
What happens after the procedure?
Your physician will explain the findings to you. If a biopsy was performed or a polyp removed, you should get the results in about two weeks. Your physician may give you other special instructions as well. Even though you should feel fine, you must have someone else drive you home after the procedure because of the sedation. You should not drive, operate heavy machinery or make important decisions for up to eight hours after your procedure. Most people resume a normal diet after the procedure.
Are there any risks associated with a colonoscopy?
Serious complications from this procedure are very rare. Of course, as with any medical procedure, they can occur. Complications might include excessive bleeding, especially if a large polyp was removed, or, in rare cases, a tear in the lining of the colon, which might require hospitalization or surgery. Again, these complications are rare. Your physician will review the risks with you before the procedure.
Can I choose the physician who will perform my procedure?
If you are familiar with one of AGA’s physicians, a representative can check to see if that doctor performs direct access colonoscopies when you schedule your procedure. If that doctor is not available, the representative will review the physicians and endoscopy center locations that best fit your needs.


To find out if you are eligible,
start your questionnaire now.
It’s a great first step to
staying healthy!