What is Colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is a test done to detect changes or irregularity in the colon (large intestine) and rectum. In the procedure, a long, flexible tube known as the colonoscope is inserted into the rectum. A small video camera attached at the tip of the tube permits your doctor to observe the inside of the entire colon.

Your doctor can remove polyps or any other types of abnormal tissue through the scope during a colonoscopy. Tissue samples are also taken for biopsies during a colonoscopy.

Why Colonoscopy is Done?

Colonoscopy is done to:

  • Examine signs and symptoms of the intestine: A colonoscopy may aid the doctor to discover potential causes of abdominal pain, unusual rectal bleeding, persistent constipation and/or diarrhea and other intestinal problems.
  • Screen for colon cancer: People aged 50 or above and at average risk of colon cancer may be recommended by the doctor for a colonoscopy every 10 years or at times sooner to screen for colon cancer.
  • Find more polyps. If a person had polyps earlier, the doctor may suggest a follow-up colonoscopy to look for and take away any extra polyps. The process is done to reduce the risk of colon cancer.

How Do I Prepare for a Colonoscopy?

Your doctor may instruct you about some diet or fluid restrictions before a colonoscopy. You may be advised to limit or eliminate solid foods for a few days before the colonoscopy. Your doctor may recommend you to take laxatives orally. Along with the dietary changes, your bowel should be further cleansed in order to prepare for a colonoscopy. You may be given 2 enemas before the procedure as the rectum and lower intestine should be empty so that the intestinal walls can be observed properly.

Arrange help as you won’t be able to drive after the colonoscopy. Since you will be given sedatives during the procedure, it is not safe to drive or work on machinery for at least 8 hours after the procedure.

What is the Proceedure of Colonoscopy?

During a colonoscopy, Sedatives will be given in pill form, or sometimes, combined with intravenous pain medication to reduce any discomfort.

You will then lie on your side on an examining table, generally with your knees drawn toward your chest. Your doctor will insert a colonoscope into your rectum.

The colonoscope is long enough to reach the entire length of your colon and it contains a light and a tube that permits your doctor to pump air or carbon dioxide into your colon. The air or carbon dioxide blow up the colon, which provides a better vision of the lining of the colon. During the pumping of air, you may feel cramping or the urge to have a bowel movement.

The colonoscope has a tiny video camera attached at its tip. The camera provides images to an external screen so that your doctor can study the inside of your colon.

Your doctor may also insert instruments via the tube to take tissue samples (biopsies) or eliminate polyps or other areas of abnormal tissue.

A procedure normally takes around 30 to 60 minutes.

After the Procedure, Colonoscopy Recovery

  • You will be sent in a recovery room for about 30 minutes for observation
  • You may experience some cramping or a sensation of having gas, however, this usually passes quickly
  • You can restart your normal diet

You may be asked to avoid certain medicines, like blood-thinning agents temporarily if biopsies were taken or polyps were detached. Very rare, but puncture and bleeding of the colon are possible.

Call your doctor immediately if you have any of the following:

  • Too much or extended rectal bleeding
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • A Fever
  • Bloody bowel movements
  • Dizziness

What Risks are associated with Colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is generally safe. Rare complications of a colonoscopy may include:

  • Unfavorable reaction to the sedative
  • Bleeding from the site where a tissue sample is taken or a polyp or other abnormal tissue is removed
  • A tear in the colon

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