Colonoscopy is a procedure that allows the specialist (usually a gastroenterologist) to evaluate the colon, which is the large bowel or large intestines. To perform this procedure they use a tool called a colonoscope, a flexible four foot-long tube about as thick as a finger with a camera and source of light at the tip. The tip of this scope is placed in the anus and slowly with great visual control then inserted into the rectum and moved through the colon. This scope usually goes as far as the first part of the colon called the cecum.
There are many reasons why gastroenterologist might perform a colonoscopy. The majority of colonoscopies are performed to screen for colon cancer. If it’s done for other reasons, most often they will include: abdominal pain, a change in bowel habit, to determine the cause of blood in stool, something abnormal found on a colonic imaging scan or diarrhea. If you or your family has history of polyps and/or colon cancer it’s advised for you to periodically receive a colonoscopy because you have a greater risk for developing polyps or colon cancer.
Before undergoing a colonoscopy intravenous fluids are began, and the patient is required to have their blood pressure and heart rhythm as well as the oxygen in the blood monitored. When having a colonoscopy you will usually develop feelings of cramping, pressure and bloating in the abdomen. Sedatives are normally given to patients and it causes them to become relaxed and sleepy, it helps reduce pain. A colonoscopy usually takes 15 to 60 minutes. The patient lies on left side or their back as the colonoscope is inserted. Once it’s inserted and reaches the cecum the physician carefully examines the lining of the colon as it’s slowly withdrawn. If for any reason the physician wasn’t able to see the colon the first try the colonoscope cannot be re-enter, it will have to be tried again on a later date.