- Virtual Colonoscopy
- Cancer Diagnosis
What is a colonoscopy?
The digestive system processes and eliminates waste after digestion. The colon and rectum are the final portions of the digestive system and are also referred to as the large bowel or large intestine. A colonoscopy is a diagnostic procedure to evaluate the health of the colon and rectum.
A colonoscopy is done with a colonoscope, a long, flexible tube with a lighted camera at the end of it. The doctor performing the colonoscopy will be able to view the condition of the colon and be able to take samples for biopsy or remove polyps with the colonoscope.
Alternative methods to standard colonoscopy
- Virtual colonoscopy: the colon is filled with air through a rectal tube and high-resolution images are taken with a CT scan.
- Colon capsule endoscopy: The patient swallows a pill-sized capsule with a camera inside that transmits images.
- High-definition colonoscopy: This method comes with improved detection of small polyps.
Why is a colonoscopy performed?
A colonoscopy is performed for the following reasons:
- To screen for colorectal cancer (Colonoscopy is immensely useful in early diagnosis of colorectal cancer.)
To detect the cause for:
When is a colonoscopy performed?
A typical healthy adult should have a colonoscopy at age 50 and continue to have it once every 10 years, more frequently if initially abnormal. People at high risk for cancer should have colonoscopy at an earlier age and more often.
More frequent colonoscopies are also recommended in individuals who:
How do you prepare for a colonoscopy?
The colon has to be completely cleared before a colonoscopy so the doctor is able to view it without any obstruction. The patient must follow a few steps:
- Go on a clear liquid diet one to three days prior, according to the doctor’s advice.
- Avoid red and purple foods like beets, which might lead to misdiagnosis.
- Take an oral laxative mixed in a clear drink the night before and the morning of the procedure.
- Drink large amounts of water to stay hydrated.
- Some may have to use an enema kit to clear the colon.
- Check with the doctor before taking any medications.
- Stop taking blood thinners.
- Inform the doctor if pregnant.
- Inform the doctor of pre-existing conditions, diseases or allergies.
- Inform the doctor if there are any implants.
How is a colonoscopy performed?
Colonoscopy is an outpatient procedure generally performed by a gastroenterologist. The patient receives light sedation and some pain medication. The procedure lasts for thirty to sixty minutes. Some patients might require anesthesia.
It is unsafe to drive or operate machinery for 8 hours post-procedure, depending on anesthesia.
- The patient lies on their side with knees drawn to their chest so the doctor can get a better angle to the colon.
- The doctor will insert the colonoscope through the anus and guide it gently and slowly through the entire colon. The colonoscope is slowly retracted while monitoring for abnormalities.
- The doctor may inflate the colon with air to get a better view.
- The doctor will remove polyps if found, extract tissue for a biopsy, and stop any bleeding.
- The doctor will then gently withdraw the tube.
- The patient should be able to leave in an hour and resume normal activities within a day.
- The results of the colonoscopy help the doctor decide on the future course of treatment.
Latest Cancer News
Daily Health News
How painful is a colonoscopy?
Most people feel nothing more than slight discomfort during the procedure because mild sedation and pain medication are part of the procedure. Some people do not feel much pain even without sedation, but some may experience cramps and pain.
What are the side effects and risks of a colonoscopy?
Colonoscopy is a routine and fairly safe procedure with few side effects and rare complications.
Possible risks and complications:
IMAGESBrowse through our medical image collection to see illustrations of human anatomy and physiology See Images
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Top How Painful Is a Colonoscopy Related Articles
10 Natural Remedies for Colon CleansingA colon cleanse is the act of flushing out or cleaning the large intestine. They may be performed by professionals called colonic hygienists. In spite of insufficient research to support its benefits, the goal of colon cleansing is to clear the colon of any stagnant, supposedly toxic waste encrusted on the walls of the large intestine.
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 Cancer IllustrationsMost, if not all, of these cancers develop from colonic polyps. Removal of these precancerous polyps can prevent colon cancer. See a picture of Colon Cancer and learn more about the health topic.
Colon Cancer Prevention
Colorectal cancer is both curable and preventable if it is detected early and completely removed before the cancerous cells metastasize to other parts of the body. Colonoscopy and flexible sigmoidoscopy (along with digital rectal examination and stool occult blood testing) are both effective at preventing colo-rectal cancers and detecting early colo-rectal cancers.
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.
Colon Polyps: Symptoms, Causes, Cancer Risk, Treatment, and PreventionColon polyps are common growths on the inner lining of the colon. Colon polyps may become cancerous. There are several different types of colon polyps, and the chance of the polyp becoming cancerous depends on the type, size, and histology. Blood in the stool or rectal bleeding are the most common symptoms of colon polyps. Treatment for colon polyps depend on the type, size, and histology.
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.
Colorectal (Colon) Cancer QuizWhat is colorectal (colon) cancer and who gets it? Take this quiz to find out how this disease may be prevented.
Colon Cancer SlideshowColorectal cancer (colon cancer) is the cause of many cancer deaths. Learn about the warning signs, symptoms, screening process, stages, and treatment related to colorectal cancer.
Early Warning Signs and Stages of Colon CancerColon cancer or colorectal cancer, is a type of cancer that begins in the cells lining the large intestine (colon). In the early stages of colon cancer, warning signs and symptoms usually don’t occur. Colon cancer usually does not have any signs or symptoms. As the cancer grows and expands it may begin to produce signs and symptoms, for example, diarrhea, constipation, blood in the stool, and narrow or pencil-thin stools.
There are four stages of colon cancer; however, The term Stage 0 is sometimes used for a very early cancer that only affects the lining of the intestine. The other stages of colon cancer are stage 1, 2, 3, and 4.
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.
All About PolypsDo you know what a polyp is? Learn the definition of a polyp, which can be found in the sinuses, stomach, colon, gallbladder, and elsewhere. Learn about endometrial polyps, adenomatous polyps, sessile polyps, pedunculated polyps, uterine polyps, and cervical polyps. Some are more likely to cause cancer.
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.