What is a Colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is an examination of the entire length of a patient’s large intestine to look for signs of colon cancer, remove colon polyps, and treat diverticular bleeding or symptoms causing constipation or diarrhea. If you are experiencing diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain or rectal bleeding, please consult your gastroenterologist to perform a colonoscopy.
Standard of care for colon cancer screenings begin at 50 years old. However, if there is a first degree family member (mother/father/brother/sister) with colon cancer, screening should start at 40 years old or 10 years prior to when the family member was diagnosed with colon cancer or whichever comes first. African Americans need to start colon cancer screening at 45 years old.
How is a Colonoscopy Performed?
A traditional colonoscopy procedure is approximately 30 minutes in length. The colonoscopy procedure is done with a colonoscope, a flexible, tube-shaped device about four feet long and less than one inch in diameter. At the end of the colonoscope there is a fiber-optic light and miniature camera, which allows the doctor to capture images of the inside of a patient and display them on a television.
The colonoscope is inserted into the rectum and advanced to the end of the colon. At this point the colonoscope is slowly withdrawn. If polyps are detected they are removed by a small snare or forceps, which is placed through the colonoscope.
How Will I Feel During My Colonoscopy?
Patients are mildly sedated in ‘twilight’. Sometimes there can be gas and/or cramping post procedure, but this is typically minimal, if it occurs at all.