Colonoscopy is a procedure used to view large intestine (colon and rectum) using an instrument called colonoscope (a flexible tube with a small camera and lens attached). The procedure can detect inflamed tissue, ulcers, and abnormal growths. It is used to diagnose early signs of colorectal cancer, bowel disorders, abdominal pain, muscle spasms, inflamed tissue, ulcers, anal bleeding, and non-dietary weight loss.
The procedure is done under sedation or general anesthesia. The colonoscope is inserted into the rectum which gently moves up through the colon until it reaches the cecum (junction of small and large intestine). Colonoscopy provides an instant diagnosis of many conditions of the colon and is more sensitive than X-ray.
The colonoscopy is then withdrawn very slowly as the camera shows pictures on the high quality TV monitor of the colon and rectum onto a large screen. Polyps or growths can also be removed by colonoscopy which can be sent later for detection of cancer.
National bowel cancer screening program introduced in Australia, invites people over 50 years to undergo test to find occult blood (not seen with eye) in feces at 5 year intervals. Colonoscopy is recommended if the test is found positive to exclude possibility of large bowel cancer.
Instructions for colonoscopy
Your surgeon may provide you written instructions and also will communicate verbally on how to get prepared for the colonoscopy procedure. The process is called bowel preparation.
Gastrointestinal (GI) tract should be devoid of solid food; a strict liquid diet should be followed for 1 to 3 days before the procedure. Patients should not drink beverages containing red or purple dye. Liquids that can be taken before surgery include fruit juices, plain coffee, tea, and water.
Certain medications such as aspirin, warfarin, Plavix, ibuprofen, naproxen or other blood thinning medications, iron containing preparation should be stopped before the test. Iron medications produce a dark black stool, and this makes the view inside the bowel less clear.
A laxative or an enema may be required the night before a colonoscopy. Laxative is medicine that loosens stool and increases bowel movements. Laxatives are usually swallowed as a powder dissolved in water.
Driving is not permitted for 12 hours after colonoscopy.