A colonoscopy exam looks for changes like swollen, irritated tissue polyps or cancer in the colon and rectum. During this test, your doctor inserts a long, flexible tube called a colonoscope into the rectum. The colonoscope has a camera at its tip, allowing the doctor to see inside the entire colon. If necessary, the specialist can remove polyps or other abnormal tissue through the scope or may take tissue samples during the exam. Below are other reasons your Vikram S. Jayanty M.D. may recommend a colonoscopy.
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When would I need a colonoscopy?
Your healthcare provider may recommend a colonoscopy for various reasons, including:
- Screen for colon cancer. Your doctor may recommend getting a colonoscopy every ten years if you are age four or older and at an average risk of colon cancer, meaning other than age, you have no colon cancer risk. You may need to start screening sooner if you have other risk factors. There are other options for colon cancer screening, and colonoscopy is just one of a few options. You can discuss with your doctor the best options for you.
- Examine intestinal signs and symptoms. A colonoscopy can help your doctor explore potential causes of rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, chronic diarrhea, and other intestinal problems.
- Treatment. For instance, remove an object in your colon or place a stent.
- Look for polyps. If you have had polyps before, your doctor may recommend a follow-up colonoscopy to check if you have any and remove additional polyps to reduce your risk of colon cancer.
What are the possible risks?
Although rare, a colonoscopy can result in complications such as bleeding from the site where a tissue sample was taken, or abnormal tissue was removed. One may also react to the sedative used during the exam, and there can also be a perforation in the colon or rectum wall.
Preparing for a colonoscopy
Empty the colon
You need to clean out or empty your colon before the procedure because any residue makes it difficult to get a clear view of your colon and rectum during the exam. Here are things your doctor may recommend to help you empty your colon.
Follow a special diet.
Your diet will be restricted to clear liquids the day before your exam. You may only take water, broth, carbonated beverages, and tea or coffee without milk or cream. Do not take red liquids since they can be mistaken for blood during the exam. You won’t eat or drink anything after midnight the night before the exam.
- Adjust your medications
A week before the exam, you will discuss with your doctor about your medications. Having this discussion is especially important if you have diabetes, heart problems, or high blood pressure or if you take iron supplements.
Medications like aspirin, warfarin, and anticoagulants thin the blood, so you also want to tell your doctor if you take them.
Take a laxative
Your doctor may recommend taking a prescription laxative, usually the night before your colonoscopy. The laxative is often taken in large volumes, in either liquid or pill form. Sometimes you may also need to use the laxative the night before and the morning of the procedure.
For further questions about colonoscopy, consult your specialist at Vikram S Jayanty, M.D.