Colonoscopy is a procedure in which a fiber-optic, flexible, small diameter tube is introduced into the large intestine (colon) to visualize the interior. The colon is the last part of the intestine where the stool is formed.
The colonoscope is a flexible, fiber-optic tube which has a computer chip installed that acts like a camera. It transmits pictures of the interior of the colon to a video screen. The colonoscope also has an open channel through which instruments can be passed to take biopsies and treat certain conditions.
Uses and Advantages of Colonoscopy The colon can be site of multiple diseases, which can be diagnosed and often effectively treated by colonoscopy. Some examples of such diseases are:
Chronic diarrhea, constipation or change in bowel habits Abdominal pain and discomfort which may be accompanied by weight loss and anemia Ulcers in the colon (ulcerative colitis) Crohn's Colitis, which is a recurrent inflammation of the colon Polyps, that are fleshy growths in the colon and may lead to cancer Diverticulosis and diverticulitis; pockets that develop along the intestinal wall and overtime, become infected
Preparation To perform colonscopy, the colon should be cleansed of stool. This can be achieved by drinking laxatives, taking enemas or drinking a special solution that flushes the colon. The patient is instructed to drink only clear liquids and eat no food on the day prior to colonoscopy. Nothing should be taken by mouth atleast 8 hours before the procedure. Any medications may be taken according to the instructions of the physician.
Procedure Colonoscopy is generally performed as an outpatient procedure. The patient is relaxed by using a mild sedative and the colonoscope is introduced via the anus into the colon. It is maneuverrd through the colon and any abnormal tissue is seen through the camera and biopsied. If a polyp is encountered, it may be removed through the colonoscope.
Side effects and Risks Mild abdominal discomfort is usual after colonoscopy and generally subsides in an hour. Mild sedation may remain for sometime after the procedure and the patient should have a ride home. In rare cases there may be some bleeding after the procedure Very rarely, a perforation of the intestine may occur that may require surgery.