Hi, this is Dr. Parker again and in this post I’m going to try to clear up any questions you have about the colonoscopy. I know everyone is very eager to get a colonoscopy and sometimes people jump right in without knowing too much about it! So hopefully I can give you a better understanding of what it is and why your doctor has recommended it.
First, a colonoscopy is basically a visual examination of the colon (also called the large bowel). Before having a colonoscopy, the colon must be cleansed so the doctor can see every inch of the lining of the colon. The day before the colonoscopy, you will be asked to either only drink liquids or eat very lightly. In addition to this, you will be given a solution to drink, or medication that will cleanse your colon before the colonoscopy. You can download our colonoscopy instructions by clicking Colonoscopy Preparation Instructions. Yes, most people say the colon cleaning preparation is the worst part, but it’s important to follow these instructions carefully, because if the colon is not cleaned properly, your doctor may ask you to re-do the examination and the colon cleanse! A double whammy!
The colonoscopy is done with a long thin flexible camera that is able to be maneuvered with a hand control through the colon after being inserted through the anal opening. This is done after you are sedated. During the colonoscopy you are able to breath on your own and follow some simple commands, however, the sedation is such that you will not remember the examination.
The doctor will maneuver the camera while watching the projected image on TV screen. The doctor advances the camera to the first portion of the colon (also called the cecum, which is located on the right side of the abdomen) and often into the last portion of the small bowel. The doctor then withdraws the camera slowly, inspecting the entire lining of the colon, rectum and anal opening. The magnification the camera provides allows the doctor to inspect the lining of the colon for abnormalities…..most commonly the doctor is looking for polyps. A polyp is a small protrusion of the lining of the colon, which can be benign or malignant in nature.
The reason we are looking for polyps is that polyps may harbor small cancer cells. If these cancer cells are identified early enough, when they are very small in the head of the polyp, removal using only instruments during the colonoscopy is enough to prevent the cancer from spreading to the rest of the body. If the cancer is identified when it has spread beyond the polyp, then a surgery with removal of a portion of the colon is required. In addition, the surgery is not a guarantee that the cancer has not spread to another portion of the body. So the colonoscopy can be the least invasive means of stopping the cancer in its tracks.
Who needs a colonoscopy? At the current time, a colonoscopy is recommended to anyone over the age of 50 years young. Depending on the results of your colonoscopy, your doctor may recommend a repeated colonoscopy in 3, 5 or 10 years in most cases.
I hope you gained some valuable information about colonoscopies with this video and ultimately it served to reduce any anxiety you’ve had about the examination. It really is a very useful test everyone should have to reduce your risk of colon cancer.
Click the following link to review the preparation: