Procedures

About a Colonoscopy

The lower gastrointestinal (GI) tract consists of the small intestine and the large intestine (also called the colon), and is mainly responsible for completing the digestion process. Nutrients are taken from food in the small intestine and the un-digestible portion passes into the colon, a 6- foot-long tube that ends at the rectum.

 

The colon then forms the waste into solid stool and stores it until it is voluntarily evacuated. Because the colon is full of turns and bends, it is difficult to examine. For this reason, doctors rely on a special method called colonoscopy. Using a long, thin Clexible instrument (a colonoscope), a doctor can directly inspect the inside of the colon

What does it involve?

During the exam you will be asked to lie on your side. This way, your doctor can gently insert the colonoscope through the anus and rectum and pass it into the bowel, and then draw it out slowly while carefully examining the inside surface. At some point you may be asked to change your position so the doctor can better examine a particular area. If there appears to be an abnormality, the same instrument may then be used to remove a small piece of tissue for further laboratory examination.

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What does it feel like?

The procedure takes from 15 to 60 minutes and can cause temporary, slight cramping. But you will be lightly sedated before the exam begins, so any feelings of discomfort should be mild. Afterward, you may also experience a “gassy” feeling when you are taken to the recovery area but other than that, there should be little or no discomfort. Because you have been given medication for the examination you should make arrangements to be picked up and driven home after the exam.

 

Colonoscopy is a relatively safe procedure and reliable results will be valuable in helping your doctor make an accurate diagnosis. This requires your taking speciCic steps at home in order to clean your bowels. The steps are explained in the section titled Before Your Exam. If you have any questions or concerns after reading it, do not hesitate to discuss them with your doctor.