Colonoscopy is a procedure used to detect abnormalities in the large intestine (colon). Colonoscopy is the visual inspection of the entire colon (large bowel) from the distal rectum to the cecum. It can show abnormal tissues, ulcers, polyps and cancer.
During a colonoscopy, a colonoscope which is a long, flexible tube with a tiny camera and light source at its tip is inserted into the anus, then the rectum and through the colon to study the inside of the colon. One day before the procedure, it is advised not to eat any solid or semi-solid food, such as mashed potatoes, applesauce, oatmeal, etc. A clear liquid diet must be taken 24 to 72 hours before the procedure. Low-fiber foods that are easy to digest and help empty the bowels may be recommended for three to four days before the procedure.
Why is a colonoscopy done?
A colonoscopy may be recommended to
- Find the cause of gastrointestinal symptoms, such as
- Investigate signs of
- Cancer and other problems
- Identify and remove polyps
- The doctor may recommend a follow-up colonoscopy to investigate and remove any polyps (lumps that can become cancerous).
How often should a colonoscopy be performed?
People with an increased risk of colorectal cancer need a periodic colonoscopy every one to five years. These are people with
- Previous history of polyps or colorectal cancer
- Family history of colorectal cancer
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
Healthy people with an average risk of colorectal cancer may undergo colonoscopy at the age of 50 years old and every 10 years thereafter.
How to prepare for a colonoscopy
Getting ready for colonoscopy is important because the colon must be free of solid matter and be as clean as possible. This will enable the doctor to see the inside of the colon clearly. Any residue in the colon may obstruct the view of the colon and rectum.
- Bowel preparation diet: To clean out or empty the colon, the doctor will give instructions for bowel preparation. This includes
- Eating low-fiber foods that are easy to digest and empty the bowels may be recommended for three to four days before the procedure.
- A clear liquid diet must be eaten 24 to 72 hours before the procedure. Drinks may be limited to clear liquids, such as water, tea and coffee without milk or cream, broth, pulp-free juice, sports drinks and carbonated beverages.
- Any liquids containing red or purple dye must be avoided because they can discolor the colon.
- Solid food should not be eaten the day before the procedure.
- Eating or drinking must not be done after midnight before the procedure.
- Use of laxative: A pill or liquid form of a laxative may be prescribed. This should be taken the night before colonoscopy or both the night before and on the morning of the procedure.
- Enema kit: In some cases, an enema may be used either the night before the procedure or a few hours before the procedure. An enema is only effective in emptying the lower colon.
- Medications: The doctor should be informed about any medications that the patient is taking, including over-the-counter drugs, antibiotics, vitamins or supplements. If the medications can affect the colonoscopy procedure, the doctor may instruct the patient to stop taking certain medications temporarily or may adjust the dosages. These might include
- Allergies: The doctor must be informed about the patient’s allergies and any other medical conditions.
How is a colonoscopy done?
Colonoscopy is performed in a hospital or at an outpatient center. Before the colonoscopy, the patient will be given sedatives through an intravenous (IV) line to minimize any discomfort or pain during the procedure. The patient will be kept as comfortable as possible and vital signs will be continuously monitored.
During the procedure, the patient lies down on the examination table on their left side with their knees drawn up toward the chest. The doctor will insert a colonoscope through the anus and into the rectum and colon.
The colonoscope is long enough to reach the entire length of the colon and contains a light and a tube that allows the doctor to pump air or carbon dioxide to inflate the colon to get a better view of it and its lining. When the scope is moved up or air is pumped, mild cramping may be felt. This can be reduced by taking slow, deep breaths.
The camera on the tip of the colonoscope sends images to an external monitor, allowing the doctor to study the inside of the colon.
During the procedure, the doctor may use a small snare in the colonoscope to remove polyps or take samples for biopsy of any abnormal tissue.
A colonoscopy procedure typically takes about 30 to 60 minutes. The procedure may take longer if there are polyps to be removed.
What happens after a colonoscopy?
After the procedure is completed, it may take about an hour for the sedative to wear off. Driving, operating machinery and drinking alcohol should be avoided for 24 hours after the procedure.
If the doctor removes a polyp or any tissue during a biopsy, it will be sent to a laboratory for testing.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Top Eat Mashed Potatoes 2 Days Before Colonoscopy Related Articles
Can I Eat 24 Hours Before a Colonoscopy?Before a colonoscopy, you should avoid solid foods for at least 24 hours and stick to a clear liquid diet for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Ask your doctor about what you can have and when.
Cologuard Test vs ColonoscopyCologuard is the recently Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved stool deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) screening test for detecting colon cancer. The Colorguard test is different from a colonoscopy because you can do it at home and you do not need to prepare by fasting or discontinuing medications before or after the test.
Colon CancerColon cancer (bowel cancer) is a malignancy that arises from the inner lining of the colon. Most, if not all, of these cancers develop from colonic polyps. Removal of these precancerous polyps can prevent colon cancer.
Colon Cancer DietDiet, including nutrient, antioxidant, and vitamin intake, affects colon cancer risk. Certain dietary factors either decrease or increase the risk of colorectal cancer, breast cancer, and other diseases. Dietary factors may either inhibit or stimulate the development of cancer cells. Have a nutrition plan that decreases the risk.
Colon and Colorectal Cancer ScreeningColon cancer is preventable by removing precancerous colon polyps, and it is curable if early cancer is surgically removed before cancer spreads to other parts of the body. Therefore, if screening and surveillance programs were practiced universally, there would be a major reduction in the incidence and mortality of colorectal cancer.
Colonoscopy Procedure and PreparationA colonoscopy is a procedure whereby a docotor inserts a viewing tube (colonoscope) into the rectum for the purpose of inspecting the colon. Colonoscopy is the best method currently available to diagnose, detect, and treat abnormalities within the colon.
Endoscopy vs. ColonoscopyBoth endoscopy and colonoscopy are nonsurgical procedures that involve use of a flexible tube with a light and camera to examine parts of the digestive tract. A colonoscopy is a type of endoscopy.
How Long Before a Colonoscopy Should I Stop Drinking Water?A colonoscopy is a test to look at the inside of the colon. Usually, doctors recommend patients undergoing a colonoscopy to stop drinking clear liquid or water at least three to four hours before the procedure. However, patients with diabetes and who are dehydrated may take a few sips of water after consulting their doctor.
How Painful Is a Colonoscopy?A colonoscopy is a diagnostic procedure to evaluate the health of the colon and rectum. A colonoscopy is done with a colonoscope, a tube with a camera and surgical tools. The doctor can view the the colon, sample tissue for biopsy, or remove polyps. Most people feel nothing more than slight discomfort during the procedure because of mild sedation and pain medication. Some people do not feel much pain even without sedation, but some may experience cramps and pain.
Is Colonoscopy Painful? What to Expect?Colonoscopy is a medical procedure to examine the inside of the large bowel (colon). It is done with the help of a long, thin, and flexible tube-like instrument that carries a camera and a light source at one end (colonoscope).
Sigmoidoscopy vs. ColonoscopyBoth sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy are nonsurgical procedures that involve use of a tube (endoscope) with a light and camera to examine parts of the large intestine (colon). A sigmoidoscopy is a procedure in which a fiberoptic camera is used to examine the rectum and lower part of the colon. The difference between a sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy is that a colonoscopy examines the upper part of the colon as well.
Virtual ColonoscopyVirtual colonoscopy is a procedure that uses a CT scan to construct virtual images of the colon. Virtual colonoscopy takes approximately 10 minutes, and in comparison to traditional colonoscopy is less invasive and requires no conscious sedation. Virtual colonoscopy may not be recommended for some patients due to their medical history.