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What is a Colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is where your doctor checks for abnormalities or disease in your large intestine, particularly the colon. They’ll use a colonoscope, a thin, flexible tube that has a light and camera attached. The colon helps form the lowest portion of the gastrointestinal tract. It takes in food, absorbs nutrients, and disposes of waste. The colon is attached to the anus via the rectum. The anus is the opening in your body where feces are expelled. During a colonoscopy, your doctor may also take tissue samples for biopsy or remove abnormal tissue such as polyps.
Why it is done?
A colonoscopy can be performed as a screening for colorectal cancer and other problems. The screening can help your doctor:
Look for signs of cancers and other problems
Explore the cause of unexplained changes in bowl habits changes
Evaluate symptoms of abdominal pain or bleeding
Find a reason for unexplained weight loss, chronic constipation, or diarrhea
Risks of a Colonoscopy
Bleeding from a biopsy site if a biopsy was done
A negative reaction to the sedative being used
A tear in the rectal wall or colon
A procedure called the virtual colonoscopy causes CT scans or MRIs to take pictures of your colon. If you opt for it instead, you can avoid some of the complications associated with traditional colonoscopy.
Your doctor will give you instructions for a bowel preparation (bowel prep). You must have a clear liquid diet for 24 to 72 hours before your procedure.
The typical bowel prep diet includes:
Broth or bouillon
Plain coffee or tea
Sports drinks, such as Gatorade
Make sure not to drink any liquids containing red or purple dye because they can discolor your colon. These might include:
vitamins containing iron
certain diabetes medications
Most people get a sedative and pain medication through an intravenous line. During the procedure, you’ll lie on your side on a padded examination table. Your doctor may position you with your knees close to your chest to get a better angle to your colon. While you’re on your side and sedated, your doctor will guide the colonoscope slowly and gently into your anus through the rectum and into the colon. A camera on the end of the colonoscope transmits images to a monitor that your doctor will be watching. Once the colonoscope is positioned, your doctor will inflate your colon using carbon dioxide. This gives them a better view. Your doctor may remove polyps or a tissue sample for biopsy during this procedure. You’ll be awake during your colonoscopy, so your doctor will be able to tell you what’s happening. The entire procedure takes 15 minutes to an hour.
After the Procedure
After the procedure is done, you’ll wait for about an hour to allow the sedative to wear off. You’ll be advised not to drive for the next 24 hours, until its full effects fade. If your doctor removes tissue or a polyp during a biopsy, they’ll send it to a laboratory for testing. Your doctor will tell you the results when they’re ready, which is normally within a few days.
Also, a little bit of blood in your stool after the procedure is normal. However, call your doctor if you:
Continue to pass blood or blood clots
Experience abdominal pain
Have a fever over 100°F (37.8°C)
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A colon biopsy is a term used to describe the removal and examination of a tissue sample from the colon. It is a diagnostic procedure used to determine whether any of the tissue cells are cancerous or precancerous.
Usually if a suspected colorectal cancer is found by any screening or diagnostic test, it is biopsied during a colonoscopy. In a biopsy, the doctor removes a small piece of tissue with a special instrument passed through the scope.
Many times, doctors first spot colon cancer during a routine screening colonoscopy. During a colonoscopy: gastroenterologist uses a flexible tube with a camera at the end to look at the insides of your colon.
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