Colonoscopy screening is done to let your gastroenterologist see the inner lining of your large intestine, including the colon and rectum. The doctor uses a colonoscope, which is a thin and flexible tube with a small camera attached to it to look at the colon. Colonoscopy screening helps to find colon polyps, ulcers, tumors, inflammation, and bleeding. Biopsies can be performed during a colonoscopy, abnormal growths may be removed. This can also be a screening test for cancer or precancerous cells in the colon.
The colonoscope can range from 48 inches to 72 inches long. A very small camera is attached to the tube so the doctor can record images or a video of the colon. A colonoscopy can look through the entire colon or only the lower intestines.
Before a colonoscopy, you will need to prep your colon. This may take one to two days, or may be started the night before the procedure. The preparation for a colonoscopy is often worse than the procedure itself. After being on a clear liquid diet for 24 hours, you will drink a special solution with a very unpleasant taste until your bowels are clear liquid. This may be uncomfortable and limiting, because of the time you will need to spend in the bathroom. It is important to keep yourself hydrated, however, so be sure to follow up the drink solution with clear soda or water after each dose.
The procedure itself is relatively fast and the patient is under anesthesia, so will not feel anything. Once awakened from the surgery, the patient is urged to rest while resuming a normal diet and taking it slow for the rest of the day, due to the after effects of the anesthesia. There should be no pain felt following a colonoscopy and the doctors can report the results back within one to two weeks.
Doctor recommend a screening for rectal and colon cancer at age 50, if you have not had any previous triggers to suggest the need for a colonoscopy. Some risk factors that may need to be taken into consideration for people who are under 50 include a family history of polyps or colon cancer, a personal medical history of bowel diseases such as Chrohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, obesity, and smoking habits.
Speak with your doctor about pre-existing medical conditions and all of the prescribed medications as well as over-the-counter medications that you are taking. Also mention vitamins and supplements you take including aspirin, ibuprofen, arthritis medication, iron supplements, and blood thinners.
Following a colonoscopy, if you experience severe pain, a fever, bloody bowel movements, weakness, or dizziness, consult your physician immediately.