What is a colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is a screening test that allows the doctor to look for abnormalities inside your colon. A tiny video camera on a flexible tube called a colonscope is passed through the anus and follows the large intestine. The doctor is able to see any abnormalities and take tissue samples during the procedure using the same tool.
The procedure itself usually takes 15 to 60 minutes, although you should plan on two to three hours for waiting, preparation and recovery.
Colon Cancer Screening
Colonoscopy is used as a screening and prevention tool for colon cancer. Pre-cancerous growths, called polyps, can be removed during a colonoscopy preventing them from becoming cancer.
With a referral from your doctor, you can schedule the procedure by calling Guthrie gastroenterology.
Who Should Get a Colonoscopy and When?
When you follow screening recommendations, your doctor is able to find cancer early, when it’s most treatable, before you have symptoms.
- Average Risk: When you are 45 and older, it’s time for your first colonoscopy if you have no specific risk factors.
- Higher Risk: If you have a family history of colon cancer or polyps, get screened at age 40 or 10 years before the age of the youngest case in your immediate family.
Talk to your primary doctor if you have concerns or any other personal medical history that might indicate getting a screening before age 45.
How to prep for a colonoscopy
Before the procedure, you’ll need to clean out your colon so the doctor has a clear view. Some people find the prep to be the most unpleasant part of the procedure. Using medication, your body is prompted to clean out the contents of your colon. Be sure to be close to a bathroom during the process.
Please note, there are several options for prepping the bowel for colonoscopy. Be sure to confirm which prep your provider prefers before your scheduled procedure. Your bowel must be empty so that your doctor can clearly view your colon.
What if the colonoscopy shows something abnormal?
If your doctor thinks an area needs further evaluation, he or she might pass an instrument through the colonoscope to obtain a biopsy (a sample of the colon lining) to be analyzed. Biopsies are used to identify many conditions, and your doctor might order one even if he or she doesn't suspect cancer.
If a colonoscopy is being performed to identify sites of bleeding, your doctor might control the bleeding through the colonoscope by injecting medications or by coagulation (sealing off bleeding vessels with heat treatment).
Your doctor might also find polyps during colonoscopy, and he or she will most likely remove them during the examination. These procedures don't usually cause any pain.
What happens after a colonoscopy?
Your physician will explain the results of the examination to you, although you'll probably have to wait for the results of any biopsies performed.
Someone must drive you home and stay with you. Even if you feel alert after the procedure, your judgment and reflexes could be impaired for the rest of the day. 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 gas.
You should be able to eat after the examination, but your doctor might restrict your diet and activities, especially after polypectomy.