What is a colonoscopy
A colonoscopy is a procedure that is used to look for colon polyps, colon cancer, diverticula, or other abnormalities. The most common reason people receive a colonoscopy is for screening for colon cancer. This is generally recommended for patients over the age of 50 every ten years (if they have no history of polyps or cancer and no family history of colon cancer). If you have a first degree relative (parent, sibling, or child) who has a history of colon cancer or colon polyps, screening should start at 40 years-old. Sometimes patients will have other reasons they need a colonoscopy like a history of colon polyps, a family history of colon cancer, blood in the stools, constipation, or a history of diverticulitis, among others.
Patients are given a bowel prep that cleans out the colon. This is taken the day before the procedure and sometimes the day of the procedure. The patient is then seen at the surgery center where an IV is placed and s/he is given a medication to make him/her sleepy. The scope is then placed in the anus and advanced through the entire colon. As it is slowly removed, any abnormal lesions are removed, biopsied, or pictures are taken of it. There is a very small risk of clinically significant bleeding, putting a hole in the colon, or dying from the procedure.
A patient needs someone to take him or her home after the procedure. You shouldn’t operate any machinery, drive, or make major decisions the day of the procedure. You can resume your normal diet right after surgery (your favorite meal is the recommended dinner!). The doctor will then notify of the results at your next appointment or via a phone call.
You can click here for colonoscopy preparation instructions.