Colonoscopy: What are your anesthesia options?

What is a colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is an exam to look at 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 reach the length of the colon.

How is the test performed?
Colonoscopy is done most often in a procedure room at your doctor’s office. It can also be done in the outpatient department of a hospital or medical center.

  • You will be asked to change out of your street clothes and wear a hospital gown for the procedure.
  • You are generally given medicine into a vein (IV) to help you relax. You should not feel any pain. You may be awake during the test and may even be able to speak. You will probably not remember anything.
  • You lie on your left side with your knees drawn up toward 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 the test is performed?
Colonoscopy may be done for the following reasons:

  • Screening for colorectal cancer. Anyone who’s age 50 or older and at average risk for colon cancer should be screened.
  • Abdominal pain, changes in bowel movements, or weight loss
  • Abnormal changes (polyps) found on sigmoidoscopy or x-ray tests (CT scan or barium enema)
  • Anemia due to low iron (usually when no other cause has been found)
  • Blood in the stool, or black, tarry stools
  • Follow-up of a past finding, such as polyps or colon cancer
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis and Crohn disease)

What if I have more questions?
Always remember that your doctor is your partner in your health care. He/she can discuss any questions or concerns that you may have.

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