What is Colonoscopy?
It is a non-surgical procedure in which the internal side of the large intestine (colon and rectum) is examined by the doctor. In a colonoscopy, a long flexible tube with a small camera is inserted through the anus and doctor views the images on the monitor.
Why do I need a colonoscopy?
Colonoscopy is done to:
- Detect the causes of unexplained bowel changes
- Evaluate symptoms of abdominal pain or rectal bleeding
- Look for signs of cancer
- Diagnose the reasons for unexplained weight loss, constipation or diarrhea
The American college of surgeons has estimated that 76 to 90% of colon cancer can be prevented by colonoscopy screening.
How should I prepare for a colonoscopy?
Before colonoscopy, the doctor will ask you to:
- Follow a special diet one day before the procedure: You will not be allowed to take any solid food the day before the exam. You will be allowed to take clear liquids like water, broth, aerated drinks and tea/coffee without milk.
- Take a laxative: You will be asked to take a laxative the night before the procedure to completely clear your bowels.
- Other medications: The doctor may ask you to change the timings and dosage of other medications you have been taking for other ailments.
What happens during a colonoscopy?
You will be asked to wear a gown and lie on one side of the exam table. Usually, you will be given sedative medicines to make you sleepy and comfortable. The doctor will then insert a colonoscope through your rectum. The scope has a light, camera and a tube through which doctor can pump air into your colon. The air helps in inflating the intestine which improves the view of the colon. You may feel abdominal cramping when the scope is moved up or air is introduced. This procedure usually takes about 30 to 60 minutes.
What happens after the colonoscopy?
It takes about an hour to recover from the sedation so you will need someone to take you home. You will be advised rest for the entire day. You may pass gas or feel bloated for a few hours after the exam. If the doctor has removed polyp during the colonoscopy, then you may have to take a special diet for a few days. You may also find a small amount of blood when you pass stools after the procedure.
What are the harmful effects of colonoscopy?
Rarely colonoscopy may cause complications like:
- Allergic reaction to sedative used during the procedure
- A tear in the colon or rectum
- Bleeding from the colon
When to seek medical care?
If you experience any of the following symptoms after colonoscopy, call your doctor or seek medical care right away:
- Sever pain in the abdomen
- Blood in stools which is not getting better
- Bleeding from anus
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