What is a Colonoscopy

Colonoscopy is a procedure that allows an examiner to inspect the inside of the colon (large intestine or large bowel). The colonoscopy is a four-foot-long, flexible tube with a camera and a light source at its tip, about the thickness of a finger. The tip of the colonoscope is inserted into the anus and then slowly progresses through the rectum and through the colon under visual guidance, usually as far as the cecum, which is the first component of the colon. Typically, the last few inches of the small intestine can also be penetrated and inspected (terminal ileum).


Why Colonoscopy is Done

The doctor will recommend a Colonoscopy to:

Investigate Intestinal Signs and Symptoms

The doctor will be able to investigate potential causes of abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, chronic constipation, chronic diarrhea, and other bowel issues with colonoscopy.

Screen for Colon Cancer

If you are 50 years of age or older and have an average risk of colon cancer, the doctor may prescribe a colonoscopy in every 10 years or sometimes sooner to check for colon cancer if you have no risk factors other than age. A colonoscopy is one option for screening for colon cancer.

Look for more Polyps

The doctor can prescribe a follow-up colonoscopy if you have had polyps before, to check for and remove any additional polyps. This is done for reducing the risk of colon cancer.

Risks of a Colonoscopy

Colonoscopy is a routine procedure and there are few lasting effects from the test. The benefits of identifying symptoms and starting treatment greatly outweigh the risks of colonoscopy complications in the vast majority of cases. Some rare complications, however, include:

  • Bleeding from a biopsy site after a biopsy has been performed
  • A detrimental response to the sedative being used
  • Tear in rectal wall or colon

  • How does a person must prepare for a Colonoscopy?

    The doctor will give you the instructions for bowel preparations. The patients must have a clear liquid diet atleast 24 to 72 hours before the procedure.

    The typical bowel prep diet includes

    • Broth or bouillon
    • Gelatin
    • Plain coffee or tea
    • Pulp-free juice
    • Sports drinks, such as Gatorade
    • Avoid drinking liquids that contain red or purple dye because it can discolour the colon.

    Colonoscopy Procedure

    The doctor will discuss the Colonoscopy procedure with the patient in detail along with the benefits and risk of the procedure.

    Before the Procedure

    • The doctor will ask about the complete medical history before performing a Colonoscopy procedure. The patient can be asked about age, past surgeries, allergy to any medicine and gastrointestinal problems
    • The doctor may ask to bring along the test report of the earlier procedure.
    • The doctor will advise avoiding the blood-thinning medications before the colonoscopy scan such as ibuprofen and aspirin.
    • The doctor suggests that you take laxatives either at night or both at night and in the morning during the operation. It can be taken as a liquid or a pill in any form
    • This procedure does not require any hospitalization and, after the procedure, the patient will go back home.
    • To drive back home safely, the doctor advises the patient to carry a friend along.

    During the Procedure

    • Sedative medications are provided by the doctor to make the patient relax and calm down.
    • Then the doctor passes a colonoscope into the patient's rectum (a narrow tube-like structure, flexible in design with a light fitted into it).
    • The colonoscope is also equipped with a video camera that shows images on the screen.
    • The doctor can also insert some small tools into the biopsy tissue sample channel or to extract polyps or some other irregular tissue.
    • Then the colonoscope is removed carefully from the rectum of the patient.
    • The colonoscopy procedure takes about 20 minutes to 60 minutes.

    After the Procedure

    • After the treatment, the effect of sedatives takes an hour to fully fade away.
    • To take care of the patient, the patient is advised to carry a friend along and drive back home safely before the sedative effect fades away.
    • The doctor also tells the patient not to return to work or drive on the same day after the operation.
    • If any polyps have been removed by the doctor during the operation, the patient has to take a strict diet for a few days.
    • Some patients can see some blood passing through the first stool after the colonoscopy

    When to follow-up with the Doctor?

    The person might feel some gas or bloat from the gas, the doctor placed in the colon. It will take some time from getting out of the system. But if it continues for several days then it means there’s some problem. So contact the doctor immediately. Visit the hospital immediately if you:

    • Continue to pass blood or blood clots
    • Experience abdominal pain
    • Have a fever over 100°F (37.8°C)

    Take away

    Colonoscopy is a procedure that helps the doctor to look inside the large intestine. They use an instrument called scopes. The scope has a tiny camera attached to a long thin tube. This procedure can let the doctor for seeing things like inflamed tissue, abnormal growths and ulcers. Colonoscopy checks the entire colon and rectum.

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    Frequently Asked Questions

    1. How painful is a colonoscopy?

    During the procedure, most individuals experience nothing more than minor discomfort because moderate sedation and pain relief are part of the procedure. And without sedation, some individuals don't feel much discomfort, but some may experience cramps and pain.

    2. How long will it take to recover from a colonoscopy?

    Most people are back at work and "normal life" within 24 hours of a colonoscopy, or after the sedation wears off. After the treatment, it is advised to refrain from flying for 48 hours

    3. How serious is a colonoscopy?

    Colonoscopy is known to be a safe procedure. Occasionally, however, it can cause serious bleeding, tears in the colon, inflammation or infection of pouches in the colon known as diverticulitis, severe abdominal pain, and heart or blood vessel disease problems in people.

    4. What are the signs that you should have a colonoscopy?

    • Rectal Bleeding
    • Bloody stools
    • Irregular bowel habits