Indy Gastro | Colonoscopy, rectal bleeding, diarrhea, constipation, endoscopy


What is a colonoscopy?


In a Colonoscopy your doctor examines the lining of your colon, a portion of the large intestine, for abnormalities. The doctor inserts a flexible tube as thick as your finger into your anus and slowly advances it into the rectum and colon. This page gives basic information on colonoscopies. If you have any further questions or concerns about the procedure, please consult your physician.





What happens during colonoscopy?

colonoscopy-procedure-dr-buckleyColonoscopy rarely causes much pain. You might feel pressure, bloating or cramping during the procedure. Your doctor might give you a sedative to help you relax and better tolerate any discomfort.

You will lie on your side or back while your doctor slowly advances a colonoscope through your large intestine to examine the lining. Your doctor examinesthe lining again as he slowly withdraws the colonoscope. The procedure itself usually takes between 15 and 60 minutes. You should plan on two to three hours for waiting, preparation and recovery.

In some cases, the doctor cannot pass the colonoscope through the entire colon to the junction with the small intestine. You may need to undergo another examination, but for some people the partial examination is sufficient.

What if the colonoscopy shows something abnormal?

colonoscopy-shows-something-abnormalIf your doctor thinks an area needs further evaluation, he might pass an instrument through the colonoscope to obtain a biopsy (a sample of the colon lining) to be analyzed. Biopsies are used to identify many conditions, and doctors order them even when they don’t suspect cancer
If the colonoscopy is being performed to identify sites of bleeding, your doctor might control the bleeding through the colonoscope by injecting medications or by coagulation (sealing off bleeding vessels with heat treatment). If your doctor finds polyps during a colonoscopy, he will most likely remove them during the examination. These procedures are usually painless.

What are polyps and why are they removed?

colonoscopy-what-are-polypsPolyps are abnormal growths in the colon lining that are usually benign (noncancerous). They can be as small as a tiny dot or measure several inches in diameter. Doctors can't always tell benign polyps from malignant (cancerous) polyps by their outer appearance, so he or she might they often send removed polyps for analysis. Because cancer begins in polyps, removing them is an important means of preventing colorectal cancer.


How are polyps removed?

colonoscopy-how-are-polyps-removedYour doctor can destroy tiny polyps by fulguration (burning), by removing them with wire loops called snares, or with biopsy instruments. Your doctor might use a technique called "snare polypectomy" to remove larger polyps. In a snare polypectomy, the doctor passes a wire loop through the colonoscope and removes the polyp from the intestinal wall with an electrical current. You should feel no pain during the polypectomy.


What happens after a colonoscopy?

colonoscopy-what-happens-afterYour physician will explain the results of the examination to you, although you'll probably have to wait for the results of any biopsies performed. If you have been given sedatives during the procedure, someone must drive you home and stay with you. Even if you feel alert after the procedure, your judgment and reflexes could be impaired for the rest of the day.

You might have some cramping or bloating because of the air introduced into the colon during the examination. This should disappear quickly when you pass gas. You should be able to eat after the examination, but your doctor might restrict your diet and activities, especially after polypectomy.

What are the possible complications of colonoscopy?

colonoscopy-possible-complicationsColonoscopy and polypectomy are generally safe when performed by doctors who have been specially trained and are experienced in these procedures. One possible complication is a perforation, or tear, in the bowel wall. Some perforations require surgery to repair them.

Bleeding might occur at the site of biopsy or polypectomy, but it's usually minor. Bleeding can stop on its own or be controlled through the colonoscope. It rarely requires follow-up treatment.

Some patients might react to the sedatives or have complications due to heart or lung disease. Although complications after colonoscopy are uncommon, it's important to recognize early signs of possible complications. Contact your doctor if you have severe abdominal pain, fever and chills, or more than one-half cup of rectal bleeding. Bleeding may occur several days after the procedure.

Copyright © 2004 American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy. All rights reserved.

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