Colonoscopy is a procedure that’s done to find possible abnormalities in the rectum and colon (also known as the large intestine). During the procedure, your doctor will insert a tube, called the colonoscope, into the rectum, which has a camera on the tip that helps in getting a complete view of the colon.
Why is colonoscopy done?
Your doctor may recommend colonoscopy if you are over 50 years of age. Colon cancer is linked to age, and anyone, regardless of the gender, over 50 should get screened at least once in a decade. A colonoscopy is usually recommended to find the possible causes of changes in bowel movements, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain and bleeding from the rectum. If the patient had a history of colon polyps in the past, colonoscopy may help in follow up and further treatment, as the need may be.
Are there any risks?
Some patients may develop a reaction to the sedative used for colonoscopy, while others may have tearing in the colon wall. In some cases, doctors may want to take tissues for biopsy, which can cause bleeding at the site. Typically, your doctor will explain the possible risks of colonoscopy in detail, and if you agree to those, a form must be signed expressing consent for the procedure.
What happens before, during and after the procedure?
Before colonoscopy, your colon should be completely clean, for which a clear liquid diet is recommended for at least 24 hours prior to the procedure. Solid foods are usually avoided, and doctors may suggest taking a special laxative a night before colonoscopy. In some cases, an enema kit is recommended before the procedure. If you are taking blood thinners, certain vitamins and medications for diabetes, your doctor may recommend against the same and stop the dosages temporarily.
During the procedure, the scope is used to pump air into the color, which helps in inflating it. As mentioned earlier, the colonoscope has a camera on the tip, which sends the images to the monitor placed close by, so that doctors can study as required. In some cases, additional instruments can be used for taking tissues to remove polyps.
After the procedure, your doctor will ask you to wait for about an hour, after which you can go home. Driving is not recommended for 24 hours, and you may have some bloating feeling, which should subside with walking. Talk to your doctor to find more.