A colonoscopy is done to enable a doctor, usually a gastroenterologist to examine the inside of the colon. It is done by using the colonoscope which is a four-foot long, flexible tube with a camera at the end.
Why is a colonoscopy done?
There are many reasons why a colonoscopy may be done.
- To screen for colon cancer.
- To investigate blood in stools
- Abdominal pain
- Change of bowel habits
- Abnormality found in X-Ray or CT scan
Some people who have had a history of polyps or colon cancer and those with a family history of colon cancer may be advised to have a colonoscopy periodically to make sure that everything is normal.
Should a healthy individual have a colonoscopy?
Unless there is an abnormality, the doctor may not ask you to have one. But for seniors, a colonoscopy is a good idea, at 50, and every ten years after that to remove colon polyps before they can cause problems.
How is a colonoscopy done?
Before the colonoscopy, an IV will be started and the patient will be continuously monitored. Medications may be given through the IV to relax the patient and to reduce any pain or discomfort. Some symptoms that a colonoscopy may produce is a feeling of pressure in the stomach, a sensation of bloating or cramping in the abdomen.
Step 1: Patient lies on the left side and the tip of the colonoscope will be inserted into the anus
Step 2: It is then advanced slowly, under visual control, into the rectum and through the colon usually as far as the cecum, which is the first part of the colon.
Step 3: Once the tip has scanned the last portion of the small intestine, the colonoscope is slowly withdrawn,
Step 4: As it comes out, the lining of the anus is examined.
The whole procedure takes between 20 minutes to an hour.
How should you prepare for a colonoscopy?
The colon must be completely clean for accurate scanning. The doctor will give instructions on how to cleanse the stomach, prior to the examination. The doctors should be alerted to any medication that you are currently on as they may ask you to avoid certain medications.