Colonoscopy is a high-quality diagnostic tool gastroenterologists use for evaluation of the entire colon. Recommended for patients 45 and older who are at average risk of developing colorectal cancer, colonoscopy delivers a wealth of medical information and allows for some in situ treatments.
Here’s what you should know about colonoscopy.
Why Get a Colonoscopy?
Colonoscopy is today’s gold standard for colorectal cancer screening. According to the CDC, this prevalent malignancy is fourth on the list of cancer-related deaths among American adults.
Typically, the cancer develops from small polyps projecting from the colon lining. With colonoscopy, the gastroenterologist visualizes these growths and removes them (polypectomy) for lab biopsy.
The CDC also reports that about 90 percent of individuals who have cancerous polyps removed and who are subsequently treated for cancer survive to the five-year mark and beyond. So, early detection is vital for this often asymptomatic and potentially deadly disease.
GI specialists also use this screening tool to understand why a patient may be experiencing:
- Bleeding in the lower gastrointestinal tract
- Unexplained diarrhea or abdominal pain
- Difficulties with bowel movements
With a lighted scope, the doctor can assess the progress of inflammatory bowel syndrome, remove polyps (polypectomy) and improve narrowed areas of the colon (strictures).
Preparation, Procedure,and Recovery
The key to ensure a successful colonoscopy is doing a bowel preparation as directed by your doctor. In order for the doctor to access and visualize the entire colon, it needs to be empty. As such, you will be instructed to follow a bowel prep plan ahead of the screening, which generally means the following:
- Fast from all solid food and opaque liquids two days before the test.
- Drink only clear liquids throughout the day before the colonoscopy (no-pulp juices, water, broth, and sports drinks, but nothing with red or purple dye).
- Refrain from taking any medications that your doctor has instructed you not to take leading up to the procedure.
- Take bowel-prep laxatives at prescribed intervals the day before and the morning of the procedure.
When you arrive at the clinic for your test, you will wear a patient gown and receive a sedative. You will be awake but very drowsy during your 30-minute examination.
The test itself involves insertion of a thin, lighted endoscope and plastic tube into the rectum. The doctor moves the instrument through the entire length of the large bowel and views its interior via a miniaturized video camera that sends images to a nearby computer monitor.
The doctor can see and remove polyps and carefully assess other issues in the colon lining. Then, the scope is removed, and you go to the recovery area until you are fully awake.
Your gastroenterologist will visit you with the results of your test. Then, you can get dressed and return home to rest for the balance of the day. Most patients go back to their normal routine the day after their colonoscopy. You will receive results of any biopsies in a few days.
For patients who may not wish to have–or cannot have–a traditional colonoscopy procedure, inSite Digestive Health Care offers CT colonoscopies, done with accurate computerized tomography imaging.
Colonoscopy Screening in California
At inSite Digestive in California, colonoscopy screening is one of the most important services we offer.Throughout the state of California, we have 30 top notch facilities, 65 board-certified specialists, and support professionals to serve patients’ gastroenterological needs.