A colonoscopy is a diagnostic procedure that allows our doctors to visually examine the inside of the colon for closer inspection of irregularities.This is accomplished by inserting a tube with a camera on the end into the anus and through the large intestine, or colon. The images from the camera are viewed on a display monitor in high definition.
A colonoscopy is typically performed to investigate the symptoms of abdominal pain or blood in the stool. They are also performed regularly for colorectal cancer screening, generally beginning at age 50.
The colon must be completely clean to achieve accurate results from a colonoscopy. Patients will usually be given a special cleansing solution to drink before the exam, or may be asked to consume only a clear liquid diet with laxatives or enemas. Most medications can still be taken, although some such as aspirin or blood thinners may require special instructions. Your doctor will instruct you on how to prepare.
Before the colonoscopy, an IV is inserted a short-acting anesthetic is given to make the patient relaxed and sleepy. The heart, blood pressure and oxygenation of the blood are monitored throughout the procedure. During the colonoscopy, the patient lies on their left side or back as the colonoscope is slowly inserted. It reaches all the way to the tip of the colon and examines the lining as it passes in and out. The procedure takes about 15-20 minutes on average. Biopsies and removal of polyps are all performed during the procedure, if necessary.
After the procedure, patients will be kept under observation for about an hour, until the medication wears off. Reflexes and judgment may be impaired for the rest of the day, so we advise against driving and doing any strenuous activities that day. Some cramping or bloating may be experienced, but should be relieved quickly. Eating and other normal activities can resume immediately.
Complications of a colonoscopy are rare and usually minor. The procedure is very safe when performed by a trained and experienced professional. If they do occur, complications may include bleeding from the site of the biopsy, perforation of the bowel wall or reactions to the IV medication.