Colonoscopy enables your doctor to examine the lining of your colon (large intestine) for abnormalities by inserting a flexible tube as thick as your finger into your anus and slowly advancing it into the rectum and colon.
What preparation is required?
You will need to modify your diet and will also take strong laxatives in order to clear the lower bowel of any contents.
Can I take my current medications?
Most medications can be continued as usual, but some medications can interfere with the preparation or the examination. This will be have been discussed at your consultation.
What happens during a colonoscopy?
Colonoscopy is well tolerated and rarely causes much pain. You might feel pressure, bloating or cramping during the procedure. You will be given a sedative to help you relax and better tolerate any discomfort.
You will lie on your side or back while the colonoscope is slowly advanced through your large intestine to examine the lining. The procedure itself usually takes 15 to 60 minutes, although you should plan on two to three hours for waiting, preparation and recovery.
In some cases, the colonoscope cannot be passed through the entire colon to where it meets the small intestine. This can happen due to the configuration of the colon in some individuals. Sometimes another examination might be needed.
What if the colonoscopy shows something abnormal?
If an area needs further evaluation, an instrument will be passed through the colonoscope to obtain a biopsy (a sample of the colon lining) to be analyzed. Biopsies are used to identify many conditions. If any polyps are found during the colonoscopy, these will be removed. These procedures don’t usually cause any pain.
What are polyps and why are they removed?
Polyps are abnormal growths in the colon lining that are usually benign (noncancerous). They vary in size from a tiny dot to several inches. Because cancer begins in some sorts of polyps, removing them can be an important means of preventing colorectal cancer.
How are polyps removed?
Polyps are often removed using a technique called “snare polypectomy.” That technique involves passing a wire loop through the colonoscope and removing the polyp from the intestinal wall using an electrical current. You should feel no pain during the polypectomy.
What are the possible complications of colonoscopy?
Colonoscopy and polypectomy are generally safe. You might have some cramping or bloating because of the air introduced into the colon during the examination. This should disappear quickly when you pass wind.
Although serious complications after colonoscopy are uncommon, it’s important to recognise any warning signs. Contact a doctor if you notice severe abdominal pain, fever and chills, or rectal bleeding of more than one-half cup. Note that bleeding can occur several days after the procedure.