Colonoscopy is medical procedure which is usually done to evaluate symptoms like abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, or changes in bowel habits. It is considered as a good screening test for colorectal cancer. Colonoscopy is a commonly performed medical procedure and it can be done as an outpatient procedure. It allows your doctor to look at the inner lining of your large intestine (rectum and colon).
Before a colonoscopy
Your doctor may advice you to avoid eating food and drinking liquids for several hours before you undergo colonoscopy. This is done for your safety. Follow your doctor’s recommendations regarding taking laxative (medicine to open your bowels and relieve constipation). Laxative helps to clear out any stools or waste products from your bowels. If the bowel is not clean then the physician cannot clearly view the colon. Hence follow all of the instructions given to you for your bowel preparation.
The procedure is very safe when done by a doctor experienced in colonoscopy. The whole procedure lasts for about 30 minutes to 60 minutes. You will be given medications intravenously (in the vein) to make you feel relaxed and drowsy. You will be made to lie on your left side when the procedure is done. Colonoscopy, is done using a specialised instrument called colonoscope. It is a long, flexible, tubular instrument about 1/2 inch in diameter that has a light source attached to it. The light is delivered via an optical fiber system and helps the doctor to see and examine inside colon and rectum. The colonoscope is inserted through the rectum and slowly advanced into the colon (large intestine).
You may find the procedure 'uncomfortable', and may have mild cramping but it is hardly ever 'painful'. If you feel cramps or feel uncomfortable take several slow, deep breaths during the procedure. This can reduce your uneasiness.
The colonoscope has a channel through which medical instruments or manipulators can be inserted.
If your doctor sees an abnormal growth or area biopsy can be taken (small amounts of tissue can be removed for analysis) and it can be used to remove abnormal growths, or polyps as well. Colonoscopy is a valuable investigation as it allows accurate diagnosis and treatment of many conditions without the need for a major operation. After your doctor has examined the colon and rectum the colonoscope is slowly withdrawn and at the same time the lining of your bowel is also carefully examined again.
What Happens After a Colonoscopy?
After the procedure is over you will be kept in a recovery room for about 30 minutes for observation. You will be sent home in a few hours. You may have some cramping or a sensation of having gas for some time. You can resume your normal diet the same day. Discuss with your doctor regarding your medications and when to follow-up before you are discharged.
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