What is Colonoscopy?
Colonoscopy is a procedure that enables your doctor to examine the lining of the colon. It is performed in the endoscopy suite.
A soft, flexible tube about the thickness of a finger is gently inserted into the anus and advanced in. The tube has a built-in camera that allows your doctor to see your colon.
Who should undergo Colonoscopy?
Colonoscopy is performed for conditions such as:
- Colon cancer screening.
- Patients who have polyps.
- Follow up of previous polyps.
- Evaluation of bowel symptoms.
- Blood in the stools.
- Inflammatory bowel disease, Ulcerative colitis/Crohn’s disease
- Chronic Diarrhea
How do I prepare for one?
The colon must be completely emptied of stool for the procedure. In general, this involves bowel cleansing, prior to the colonoscopy. You will be given instructions on the bowel preparation.
Bowel preparation can involve taking a liquid called PEG or laxatives followed by water to clean out the bowel.
If you are unable to complete the preparation, it may be not be possible to perform the colonoscopy and the procedure will be postponed.
Most medications are safe to continue before the procedure. Please inform your doctor before the examination, especially if you are taking any blood thinners warfarin, aspirin or diabetes medication.
How is Colonoscopy performed?
The patient is given sedation during the colonoscopy to minimize any discomfort. During sedation, the doctor will slowly advance a colonoscope though the colon to examine its lining. The procedure is usually completed in 20 to 30 minutes depending on complexity of the individual procedure.
After the procedure, some recovery time is usually allowed to let the sedative wear off. Outpatient recovery time can take an estimate of 30–60 minutes. Patient is allowed to take a light meal before discharge. A common after effect from the procedure is a bout of flatulence and occasionally minor wind discomfort caused by air insufflation into the colon during the procedure.
Are there any risks or side effects?
Colonoscopy is a very safe procedure. Complications are rare, but can occur. These include bleeding (<1%) and bowel perforation (0.2%). Bleeding can occur up to about 2 weeks after a colonoscopy. Rarely surgical treatment is needed. Some patients might have reactions to the sedation.
It is important to contact your doctor if you experience symptoms of severe abdominal pain, fever or rectal bleeding after colonoscopy.
What happens after Colonoscopy?
You will be observed until the sedation has worn off, after which you will be discharged home. Do not drive or operate machinery till the next day, as the sedatives used will impair your reflexes.
You may experience mild cramping or bloating from the air placed in the colon. This will improve quickly when you pass gas. You will be able to eat normally the same day and resume your normal activities the next day.