A colonoscopy is a procedure that uses a scope to view the inside lining of the entire colon. A scope is a long thin tube with a light and a viewing instrument that sends images to a monitor. The scope allows a doctor to examine the inside of your colon for cancer, polyps, and disease. A tissue sample or biopsy can be taken with the scope. A colonoscopy is an outpatient procedure. You will receive medication to relax you prior to the test.
A colonoscopy may be ordered for several reasons. It most frequently is used as a screening tool for colon polyps or colon cancer. A colonoscopy may also be used to identify digestive or inflammatory disease. It is helpful for determining the cause of bleeding, pain, or changes in bowel habits. Additionally, a scope is used for taking photographs, obtaining tissue samples, surgically removing polyps, or specialized laser surgeries.
A colonoscopy is an outpatient procedure that can be performed at a doctor’s office or a hospital. Another person will need to drive you home because you will receive sedation medication for the procedure. Preparation instructions for a colonoscopy generally consist of methods to empty or clean your bowel prior to the test including the use of laxatives, enemas, or a liquid diet. You should not eat or drink on the night before your test. Your doctor will provide you with specific instructions.
You will wear an examination gown for your colonoscopy. The healthcare staff will monitor your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature during the test. You will receive pain-relieving medication and a sedative through an IV line. The medication will relax you and make you feel drowsy.
A digital rectal examination may be performed before the test. You will lie on your left side with your knees bent for the procedure.
Your doctor will carefully insert the scope into your colon through your anus. Air will be inserted to open the folds of the colon to provide a better view. Your doctor will gently and slowly advance the scope into your colon. You may need to change positions during the procedure to allow your doctor to best place the scope.
The procedure may cause temporary discomfort. It is common to experience gas during and after a colonoscopy. You may feel nauseous, bloated, and drowsy after the procedure. Your doctor will instruct you on how to increase your food and liquid intake. Your doctor will also discuss unexpected symptoms related to the test that may occur and a plan to address them.
Your doctor will review the results of your colonoscopy with you at a follow-up appointment. It may take time for biopsy results to be received. If abnormal results were found during your test, your doctor will discuss treatment options with you.