A colonoscopy is a visual examination of the entire large intestine (colon) and rectum using a lighted, flexible tube called a colonoscope. A colonoscopy is commonly used to evaluate gastrointestinal symptoms, such as rectal and intestinal bleeding, abdominal pain, or changes in bowel habits. Colonoscopies are also performed in individuals without symptoms to check for colorectal polyps or cancer.
A screening colonoscopy is recommended for anyone 50 years of age and older, and for anyone with parents, siblings, or children with a history of colorectal cancer or polyps.
During a colonoscopy, your physician inserts the flexible scope into the anus and gently guides it through your entire colon. A tiny video camera on the tip of the scope allows the physician to view the inside of the colon and detect any changes or abnormalities. The procedure itself takes approximately 30 minutes and patients are sedated through an I.V. prior to starting the procedure. Our anesthesia team is present during the procedure to monitor your vitals. Most patients sleep through the exam and remember little to nothing about it.
One of the most important parts of a colonoscopy is the cleansing of the bowel prior to the procedure. If the prep is not done correctly and the colon is not completely clean, it makes it difficult for the physician to identify some of the subtle lesions or flat polyps that can turn into cancer. Your physician will give you detailed written instructions for the days leading up to your colonoscopy. You should follow these very carefully so that your colon is clean when you arrive for your procedure.
Once your exam is complete and your sedative has sufficiently worn off, your physician will go over the findings with you and your family members. If the physician found and removed any polyps during the exam, these will be sent off to be examined by a pathology lab and we will notify you of the results. Your physician will also go over any concerns or questions you have and let you know when you need to return for your next colonoscopy based on his or her findings and current screening guidelines.
Patients are required to have someone drive them home after their procedure is complete. You may feel fine, but the lingering effects of the sedative make it dangerous for you to operate a vehicle. You will be able to resume normal activity the following day.