Uses of Colonoscopy
A Colonoscopy is an important way to check for colon cancer and to treat colon polyps. Polyps are abnormal growths on the inside lining of the intestine; they vary in size and shape and while most polyps are not cancerous, some may turn into cancer. However, it is not possible to tell just by looking at a polyp if it is malignant or potentially malignant. This is why colonoscopy is often used to remove polyps, a technique called a polypectomy. Colonoscopy is also a safe and effective way to evaluate problems such as: Blood loss. Abdominal or rectal pain. Changes in bowel habits, such as chronic diarrhea. Abnormalities that may have first been detected by other studies, such as an inflamed colon noted on a CT scan of the abdomen. Active bleeding from the large bowel. Another advantage of the procedure is that, when needed, other instruments can be passed through the colonoscope. These may be used, for example, to painlessly remove a suspicious-looking growth or to biopsy, that is, take a small piece of tissue for further analysis. In this way, colonoscopy may help to avoid surgery or to better define what type of surgery may need to be done. A shorter version of the colonoscope is called a sigmoidoscope. This instrument is used to screen for problems in the lower part of the large bowel (colon) only. The colonoscope, however, is long enough to inspect all of the large bowel and even the lower part of the small intestine.
How do I prepare for my colonoscopy?
You will be given instructions in advance that will outline what you should and should not do in preparation for colonoscopy; be sure to read and follow these instructions. One very critical step is to thoroughly clean out the colon, which, for many patients, can be the most trying part of the entire exam. It is essential that you complete this step carefully, because how well the bowel is emptied will help determine how well your doctor can examine it during colonoscopy. Various methods can be used to help cleanse the bowel, and your doctor will recommend what he or she prefers in your specific case. Often, a liquid preparation designed to stimulate bowel movements is given by mouth. Additional approaches include special diets, such as clear fluids, or the use of enemas or suppositories. Whichever method or combination of methods is recommended for you, be sure to follow instructions as directed.