Colonoscopy

Uses

A colonoscopy is an examination of the large intestine, also known as the colon.

A colonoscopy can be used to identify and treat a source of bleeding as well as colon cancer screening.  It is considered the gold standard screening method.  When colorectal cancer is detected early, it is usually curable.

Preparation

Prior to the procedure, the patient ingests a potent laxative preparation to evacuate all stool from the colon.

Procedure

After proper sedation to ensure patient comfort, a long, flexible instrument is inserted into the rectum and carefully advanced to the beginning of the colon called the cecum. As the instrument is slowly withdrawn, the lining of the colon is carefully inspected by the physician using images transmitted by the colonoscope to a television monitor.

Any abnormalities can be biopsied for further analysis. Abnormal growths called polyps can be removed using a wire loop known as a snare.

Colonoscopy typically takes 30 minutes to complete. Complications are rare but may include perforation of the intestine or bleeding after removal of polyps.

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