What is a Colonoscopy?

Patient and nurse speak with a physicianA colonoscopy is a medical procedure that uses a lighted, flexible colonoscope to examine the inside of the entire large intestine (colon) and rectum. A camera at the tip of the colonoscope allows your doctor to screen for polyps, cancer, and other signs of intestinal problems.

Polyps are abnormal growths on the inside lining of the intestine, and while most are not cancerous, polyps still have the potential to become cancerous. If polyps are found during your procedure, your doctor can perform a biopsy immediately.

A biopsy involves passing an instrument through the scope to remove the polyp. You should feel nothing when a biopsy or polyp is taken, and you should experience no recovery pain. While the overwhelming majority of polyps are harmless, your physician will have it analyzed and confirm your results with you.

According to the American Cancer Society, the most effective way to reduce your risk of colorectal cancer is to get screened for colorectal cancer routinely, beginning at age 45. If you have a family history of polyps or colon cancer, your doctor may advise you to get screened before age 45. Be sure to consult with your physician to make sure you're eligible for early screening.

Why Choose Gastro Health?

At Gastro Health, we provide a service called Fast-Track colonoscopy, which is a regular colonoscopy that does not require a prior consultation before the colonoscopy procedure. Also known as Open Access or Direct Access, the Fast-Track colonoscopy saves your time, money, minimizes work absences and doctor visits, and makes it more likely that you will schedule the procedure. Check to see if your doctor offers this service.

Benefits & Risks

A colonoscopy is a safe and effective procedure to screen for colon cancer and to treat colon polyps. Since most colon cancer starts as a benign polyp, removing polyps removes the possibility of them growing into cancer.

Colonoscopies help examine other problems from which a patient may be suffering, such as blood loss, abdominal or rectal pain, changes in bowel habits, or active bleeding from the bowel.

It's rare for serious complications to occur in a colonoscopy. But as with any procedure, complications are possible. These might include excessive bleeding, especially if a large polyp is removed, or a tear in the lining of the colon, which might require hospitalization or surgery.

What to Expect

Before your scheduled colonoscopy, you will be given specific prep instructions that you must follow. Failure to properly complete the prep will likely result in the inability to complete your test.

These instructions include a special diet the day before the procedure and specifics regarding medication. Additionally, if you take any blood-thinning medication, your physician may request that you stop using for 3-5 days before the test.

The entire procedure usually takes 30-45 minutes. You will receive sedation from anesthesiology on the day of your colonoscopy to keep you comfortable. During the procedure, you will lie on your left side on an examining table, and the physician will insert the colonoscope into the rectum and gently pass it through the colon. The colonoscope is equipped with several tiny instruments to aid the physician during the procedure. One slightly inflates the colon to help the physician see the entire colon, another to remove polyps or take biopsies, and a third to stop any bleeding that may occur.

You may experience slight discomfort immediately following a colonoscopy, similar to feeling bloated or having gas, but that feeling subsides quickly. Most patients resume their regular diets later that day. A colonoscopy generally requires some anesthesia, which may make patients feel a bit woozy. Under these circumstances, patients are required to have a licensed driver take them back home. Taxis or other forms of hired transportation are not allowed.

Forms & Preparation

Following the prep instructions provided by your doctor ahead of your procedure is very important. Please visit the page below to access copies of all paperwork you may need ahead of your colonoscopy.

View Forms & Preps

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