A colonoscopy is an exam performed in order to view the inside of the colon (large intestine) and rectum, using a tool called a colonoscope. The colonoscope has a small camera attached to a flexible tube that can extend the length of the colon.
What should I expect to happen when a colonoscopy is performed? A colonoscopy is most often performed in a procedure room at your doctor’s office. It can also be performed in the outpatient department of a hospital or medical center.
- You will be asked to remove your street clothes and wear a hospital gown for the procedure.
- Generally a patient receives IV (administered through a vein) medicine to help relax. The medication allows you to feel no pain. You may be awake during the test and may even be able to speak. However, you will likely remember nothing.
- You will lie on your left side with your knees drawn towards your chest.
- The colonoscope is gently inserted through the anus. It is carefully moved into the beginning of the large intestine. The scope is slowly advanced through the entire colon if possible.
- Tissue samples (biopsy) may be obtained or polyps may be removed using tiny tools inserted through the scope. Photos may be taken using the camera at the end of the scope.
Why is a colonoscopy performed? A colonoscopy may be performed for the following reasons:
- As a screening for colorectal cancer. Anyone who is age 50 or older and at average risk for colon cancer should be screened.
- Due to abdominal pain, changes in bowel movements, or weight loss
- Due to abnormal changes (polyps) found on sigmoidoscopy or x-ray tests (CT scan or barium enema)
- Due to anemia due to low iron (usually when no other cause has been found)
- Due to blood in the stool, or black, tarry stools
- As follow-up to a past finding, such as polyps or colon cancer
- Due to inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease)
If you have additional questions, always remember that your doctor is a partner in your health care. He or she can discuss any questions or concerns that you may have.
Copyright 2016. Alliant Health Plans, Inc.