Colonoscopy (koh-luh-NAH-skuh-pee) lets the physician look inside your entire large intestine (another name for the colon), from the lowest part, the rectum, all the way up through the colon to the lower end of the small intestine, the terminal ileum. The procedure is mainly used to look for early signs of cancer in the colon and rectum. It is also used to diagnose the causes of unexplained changes in bowel habits, sources of bleeding, or in monitoring patient with inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Colonoscopy enables the physician to see inflamed tissue, abnormal growths, ulcers, and bleeding.
For the procedure, you will lie on your left side on the examining table. You will be given medication to keep you comfortable and to help you relax during the exam. Most patients sleep comfortably throughout the procedure. The physician will insert a long, flexible, lighted tube in to your rectum and slowly guide it in to your colon. The tube is called a colonoscope (koh-LON-oh-skope). The scope transmits an image of the inside of the colon, so the physician can carefully examine the lining of the colon. The scope bends, so the physician can move it around the curves of your colon. The scope also blows air in to your colon, which inflates the colon and helps the physician see better.
If anything abnormal is seen in your colon, like a polyp or inflamed tissue, the physician can remove all or part of it using tiny instruments passed through the scope. That tissue (biopsy) is then sent to a lab for testing. If there is bleeding in the colon, the physician can pass a laser, heater probe, or electrical probe, or can inject special medicines through the scope and use it to stop the bleeding.
Bleeding and puncture of the colon are possible complications of colonoscopy. However, such complications are uncommon.
Colonoscopy takes 15 to 20 minutes. The medicine keeps you from feeling much discomfort during the exam. You will need to remain at the colonoscopy facility for 30 minutes to one hour after your procedure. You may feel a little groggy after the procedure but most people feel very comfortable.
Please contact us for additional questions regarding colonoscopy.
Your colon must be completely empty for the colonoscopy to be thorough and safe. We have several options for preparation:
A liquid diet means fat-free bouillon or broth, strained fruit juice, water, plain coffee, plain tea, or diet soda. Gelatin or popsicles in any color but red or orange or purple may also be eaten. Some of the preparations we use to cleanse your bowel allow you to eat a small breakfast the day before your procedure. You will also take one of several types of laxatives the night before the procedure or split the dose the evening prior to the procedure and the morning of the procedure. The scheduler that talks to you about the procedure will discuss the different options with you long before the procedure date. Also, you must arrange for someone to take you home afterward—you will not be allowed to drive because of the sedatives. Your physician may give you other special instructions. Inform your physician of any medical conditions or medications that you take before the colonoscopy.