What is a Colonoscopy?
Colonoscopy is an investigation performed using a long flexible tube about the thickness of your little finger to visually examine the inner lining of the colon and rectum. It is used not only to diagnose various intestinal problems but also to perform biopsies and remove intestinal polyps and other more complicated therapies.
This procedure is usually done on an outpatient basis with minimal inconvenience and discomfort.
Why is There a Need for a Colonoscopy?
Some of the possible symptoms and indications that may require a colonoscopy to be performed are:
- Rectal bleeding
- Mucus per rectum
- Unexplained abdominal symptoms
- Patients who test positive for blood in the stools
- Verifying or to remove biopsy polyps located by barium enema examination
- Personal history of colonic polyps or cancer
- Family history of colorectal cancer or familial colorectal polyposis
What are the Benefits?
Colonoscopy is the most accurate examination in detecting polyps or early cancers in the colon. Removal of benign polyps is a major step towards the prevention of colon and rectal cancer.
What are the Risks?
Colonoscopy is a very safe procedure with less than 0.01% risk of perforation to the wall of the colon. There is also a very small risk of bleeding following polypectomy within a week or two of the procedure.
A clean colon is essential for this procedure. This will increase both the accuracy and safety of the procedure and also shorten the time needed for the examination.
The entire procedure usually takes about 10-30 minutes. This procedure is usually well tolerated and rarely causes much pain. There may be a feeling of pressure, bloating or cramping at various times during the procedure. A mild sedation may be given if the patient is unable to tolerate this feeling.
Following the colonoscopy, there may be slight abdominal distension which quickly improves with the expelling of gas. Most patients can resume their normal diet immediately after the procedure.
After the Procedure
You will be able to return home and to drive immediately following colonoscopy if no sedation was given to you. If sedation was given, you will have to be accompanied home.