Colonoscopy

A Colonoscopy is an exam used to detect changes or abnormalities in the large intestine (colon) and rectum. Colon cancer is a very common cancer among both men and women.

Most colon cancers develop from adenomatous polyps (adenomas), which are collections of abnormal cells projecting inward as visible nodules from the lining of the colon. Polypsuse, inflammatory bowel disease, genetic, and other factors, and can be easily removed when they are small. The colon cancer rate increases with increasing age. In most cases screening starts at age 50 and is done every 5-10 years. The lining of the colon is examined using a colonoscope, a long flexible fiberoptic tube with a light at the end, through which a smaller long tube with metal jaws can be inserted to biopsy, or remove, polyps. Not all polyps are adenomas, and may be completely benign, including hyperplastic polyps, fatty tumors (lipomas), collections of lymphatic tissue (lymphoid aggregates) and others.

Benefit

Colon cancer is a very common cancer among men and women, therefore if you are within the correct age bracket this test is recommended.

Procedure

Colonoscopy normally takes 20-30 minutes, and is done by a gastroenterology specialist, or endoscopist. Most patients are sedated for the procedure, which would otherwise be uncomfortable.  Two days prior to the procedure you should eat a low residue diet (no salads, pulpy fruit or vegetables, nuts, seeds, or high fiber cereals or breads). The day before the procedure, you will be on a clear liquid diet (water, juice without pulp, coffee, tea, clear soft drinks, or gelatin). The evening before your colonoscopy you will cleanse the colon with a liquid preparation (prep kit) prescribed by your physician. You will be provided with a prescription and/or advised where to purchase it. You must carefully follow the directions that come with the kit – please read them before your preparation, even if you have read similar instructions before.

At the time of the procedure, an intravenous line (IV) will be inserted into a vein in the arm, and a sedative will be administered to make you very sleepy and ease discomfort. It may take an hour or more for the sedative to wear off following the procedure, and you may feel groggy or sleepy for several more hours. Your abdomen may also temporarily feel uncomfortable (bloated) from the air introduced into the colon during the procedure. Do not drive or operate equipment that might endanger you or others for twenty four hours. Flying after the procedure is also discouraged, particularly if you have had a biopsy, which might begin to bleed as a result of being stretched when the air in your colon expands at increased cabin altitude. If you should experience pain, bleeding, or other symptoms, you should call the clinic immediately, but be reassured that these symptoms are uncommon.

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