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A colonoscopy is a procedure used to examine the bowels using a colonoscope, which is a flexible tube equipped with a camera and light. It can aid in the detection of conditions such as colorectal cancer, polyps, and ulcers.

During the procedure, the doctor checks for abnormalities or diseases in the patient’s large intestine, particularly the colon. The colon contributes to the formation of the digestive tract’s lower half. It consumes food, assimilates nutrients, and eliminates waste.

Reasons for a Colonoscopy

A colonoscopy can be performed for the purpose of checking for colorectal cancer in addition to other conditions. The doctor can use the screening to:

  • Evaluate symptoms of abdominal pain or bleeding
  • Investigate the cause of unexpected weight loss, persistent diarrhea, or constipation
  • Look for signs of cancer
  • Investigate the reason for any sudden changes in bowel habits

Possible Risks of a Colonoscopy

Since a colonoscopy is a common procedure, it usually has few long-term effects. In the vast majority of instances, the advantages of spotting issues and starting treatment exceed the possible risks of colonoscopy-related complications.

However, there are rare complications which may include:

  • Bleeding if a biopsy was performed at a biopsy site
  • A poor response to the sedative being administered
  • A hole in the colon or rectal wall

Preparation for a Colonoscopy (bowel prep)

Diet

The following is a typical bowel prep diet

  • Gelatin
  • Pulp-free juice
  • Sports drinks
  • Broth 

Medications

The patient should inform the doctor about any medications she/she is taking, including over-the-counter drugs or supplements. If by any chance they can affect the process, the doctor may advise stopping taking them. These might include:

  • Blood thinners
  • Vitamins containing iron
  • Certain diabetes medications

A laxative may be recommended, which is to be taken the night before the appointment. In some circumstances, it may also be advised to get an enema the day before the procedure to flush the colon.

The Procedure

  • Prior to the procedure, the patient will put on a hospital gown. Most people take sedatives and painkillers. Usually, this takes the form of supervised anesthesia, though lighter forms of sedation might be provided with the doctor’s approval and upon request.
  • The patient will then lie on one side on a comfortable exam table throughout the process.
  • While the patient is on his/her side and sedated, the doctor will guide the colonoscope slowly and gently into the anus through the rectum and into the colon. The colonoscope’s camera sends images to a monitor that the doctor will be viewing.
  • The doctor will position the colonoscope and then inflate the patient’s colon with carbon dioxide to enable him/her to have a superior view.
  • Polyps or a tissue sample for biopsy may be extracted during the procedure.

After the procedure

Upon completion of the procedure, the patient will wait for about an hour to allow the sedative to wear off before leaving the hospital.

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