Colonoscopy is a procedure that allows your doctor to visually examine the inner lining of your large intestine (colon and rectum). This procedure uses a colonoscope, which is a thin, flexible tube with a small video camera at the end.

Doctors use colonoscopy to check the large intestine for ulcers, colon polyps, tumors, cancer, and areas of inflammation or bleeding. Your doctor may recommend a colonoscopy if have blood in your stool, rectal bleeding, dark or black stool, chronic diarrhea, iron deficiency anemia, unexplained weight loss, abnormal from certain tests, inflammatory bowel disease, or long-term belly pain. A colonoscopy is important to make a proper diagnosis, and provides an opportunity for your doctor to take tissue samples or remove abnormal growths during the procedure.

Preparing for a colonoscopy

A colonoscopy requires you to clean out your large intestine. This takes 1 to 2 days, depending on the preparation regimen your doctor recommends. For many people, the preparation for a colonoscopy is worse than the colonoscopy itself.

Cleaning out your large intestine requires a change in your diet, partial fasting, and the use of laxatives. You may experience hunger and fatigue. You should plan to stay home during your prep time because you will need to use the bathroom frequently.

What to Expect

First, your doctor will administer a sedative or anesthesia. Air is pumped into the colon in order to expand it and allow room for proper viewing of the intestine lining. Then your doctor will insert the colonoscope through the anus into the rectum.

During the procedure, you may feel some cramping or the need to have a bowel movement. Breathing slow, deep breaths through your mouth will help to relax your belly muscles and alleviate the cramping. You will feel and hear some air escape around the scope. This flatulence is expected and nothing to be embarrassed about.

The test usually takes 30 to 45 minutes, but can be longer, depending on what your doctor finds and if your doctor decides to do a biopsy during the procedure.

The Difference

In some case, a sigmoidoscopy is recommended instead of a colonoscopy. A sigmoidoscopy is very similar to a colonoscopy except only the rectum and lower colon are examined. Sigmoidoscopy does not require sedation and since this procedure is only requires the lower colon to be empty, preparation for a sigmoidoscopy is less aggressive.

Advantages:

  • For most patients, discomfort is minimal
  • Sedation is usually not required
  • Complications are rarely encountered
  • Less extensive colon cleansing procedure

Disadvantages:

  • The test only allows the doctor to view the rectum and lower colon, so polyps and cancer in the upper part of the colon can be missed
  • Bowel cleansing is still required
  • Very small risk of bleeding, tearing or perforation of the colon lining

Recovery After A Colonoscopy

Recovery time for a colonoscopy is minimal. Most people are able to go home within 2 hours after the procedure. Your doctor will tell you when you can eat normally and get back to your normal daily activities. You should drink plenty of liquids to replace what you might have lost in the Colonoscopy preparation. Do not drink alcohol until your have been eating a normal diet for a few days.

Award Winning Surgical Center

If you need a colonoscopy or any other surgery, contact us at 888-8-AVALON. Our mission at Avalon Surgery Center is to treat each patient with the utmost respect and excellent care. Our award winning doctors and state of the art facilities in Glendale, CA are available to provide you with the highest level of personalized service before, during and after your surgery.