Colonoscopy Procedure

Colonoscopy is a common and very safe procedure that examines the lining of your lower intestinal tract called the colon or large intestine. Colonoscopy means “to look inside the colon.”

Colonoscopy Procedure Description

The colonoscopy procedure uses a flexible tube that has a light and miniature TV camera on the tip. This instrument, often referred to as the “scope”, is placed in the rectum and advanced through the colon. It is connected to a television monitor that your doctor watches while performing the test. Various miniaturized tools can be inserted through the scope to help your doctor obtain biopsies (samples) of the colon and to perform a wide range of maneuvers to help diagnose or treat your condition.

When used as a colon cancer prevention method, colonoscopy can find potentially precancerous growths called polyps and remove them before they turn into cancer.

This explains why colonoscopy is an invaluable tool that helps your doctor answer important questions about your digestive health and prevent certain diseases like colon cancer.

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Following the screening

Your physician will explain the results of the examination, but you will probably have to wait for the results of any biopsies. If you received sedatives during the exam, you will need to have a friend or relative take you home. Even if you feel alert after the procedure, your judgment and reflexes could be impaired for the rest of the day. Because your doctor used air to inflate the colon when looking at the lining of the colon, you might experience some cramping or bloating. This feeling should disappear once you start passing gas. Although you should be able to eat shortly after the examination, your doctor might restrict your diet and activities if a procedure, such as removing a polyp, was performed. Things to be aware of:

You will most likely want to stay home the day before the procedure.

Some type of laxative preparation and dietary changes will be needed. Your doctor will let you know what to do to prepare for your procedure

Have someone else drive you home

Inform your doctor of any allergies to medicines and anesthetics.

Inform your doctor of any medications and supplements you are taking.

Procedure Risks

Colonoscopy and the special techniques mentioned above are very safe when performed by specially trained doctors with experience performing these types of procedures. As with any medical procedure, even in expert hands, unintended events may happen and you need to be aware of the potential consequences.

There is a small risk of having a reaction to any of the drugs given during the exam. In most cases, medications are available to counteract these side effects. A rare complication is tearing or perforation of the lining of the intestine. Should this occur, surgery may be needed to seal the injury. Another risk is bleeding, usually at the site of a biopsy or polyp removal. Most cases of bleeding stop without treatment or can be controlled at the time of procedure.