Colonoscopy is a common and effective procedure that helps a doctor in examination and diagnosis. It is a procedure to visually examine the inside of the colon, and the large intestine for any abnormalities. In some cases, it is a routine examination, if the doctor needs further investigation in cases of diagnosing illnesses of the region. A thin tube that has a camera with a light at one end, is inserted through the anal opening to probe inside the large intestine. This process helps in the detection of polyps and diagnosis of colorectal cancer. Tissue samples for biopsy can also be collected in the process.
Colonoscopy may be needed when:
- There is anal bleeding and pain
- Blood is seen in stools
- There is chronic constipation, diarrhea
- Discomfort in the abdomen, bloating and cramps are felt
- In cases of anemia, fatigue, malnutrition
- Anal fissures and fistulas are observed
What is a colonoscopy?
Colonoscopy is the diagnostic procedure used for the examination of the lining of the large intestine. In this procedure, a thin and flexible tube (colonoscope) with a tiny camera and light attached to its tip is inserted through the anal opening to examine the colon. This procedure is performed under sedation and completed in 30-60 minutes.
How to prepare for a colonoscopy?
For the clear examination of the colon during colonoscopy patient is instructed to:
- Follow fibre rich and clear liquid diet at least 2 days before
- Take laxatives to completely empty the colon before a day and on the day of examination
- To adjust doses of medications like insulin or blood-thinning drugs
- Arrange someone to drive the patient back home
What are the risks associated with colonoscopy?
Risks associated with colonoscopy can be minimised by taking a detailed medical history and careful monitoring by an experienced doctor. Risks associated with colonoscopy are:
- Perforation on the lining of the intestine
- Bleeding and infection at the site of tissue or polyp removal
- In rare cases, severe abdominal pain, increased heart rate, and fever after a colonoscopy aka Post-polypectomy electrocoagulation syndrome
- Electrolyte imbalance
What is the recovery time of colonoscopy?
It takes a couple of hours to completely wear off the effect of sedatives after colonoscopy. The patient must arrange for someone to drive back home. After an hour patient will experience abdominal cramps and bloating due to gas pumped into the colon during the procedure. Walking around help in relieving these symptoms. The patient will be advised to take a rest for a day.
Can colonoscopy detect cancer of the colon?
Yes, colonoscopy is the diagnostic procedure and remains the golden standard for confirming the cancer of the colon and polyps. This procedure helps in examining the inner lining of the large intestine for any abnormal growth that includes both cancerous growth or polyps. With the help of colonoscopy, the doctor can collect tissues from the abnormal growth for biopsy.
Why do I have to stop medications before the procedure?
Some medications used in medical conditions like diabetes, heart diseases and hypertension, can cause the complication of bleeding, delayed healing and electrolyte imbalance. So before the examination, the patient is advised to stop or adjust the doses of these medications by the attending doctor for a safe and complication-free colonoscopy.