A colonoscopy refers to the examination of the colon and the end part of the small intestine using a flexible tube passed through the anus. It provides an opportunity for a visual diagnosis of the colon, biopsy (or removal) of a lesion, or to stop a bleeding lesion. A colonoscopy is also the method of choice for colon cancer screening.
If you would like to schedule a colonoscopy, please contact Los Angeles Integrative Gastroenterology & Nutrition. We have extensive experience in performing this simple yet effective procedure.
Purpose of a Colonoscopy
Colonoscopies are done for a variety of reasons. The most common of these are to check for the cause of or treat the following conditions:
- Abdominal pain
- Chronic diarrhea
- Blood in the stool
- Rectal bleeding
- A change in bowel habits
- A detected abnormality
- Sudden and unexplained weight loss
- Iron deficiency anemia
- Inflammatory bowel disease
Those who are at greater risk for colon cancer or colon problems, such as ulcerative colitis, colonic polyps, Lynch syndrome, and familial polyposis are advised to have more frequent colonoscopies.
Preparing for Your Colonoscopy
Before having a colonoscopy you will need to clean out your colon. An excellent prep is extremely helpful in identifying colon polyps. Depending on the type of colon prep you do, this will take one or two days. Some colon preps can be done the night before the test.
During the Colonoscopy
Before your colonoscopy you will be given intra-venous fluids and placed on a monitor for your heartbeat, blood pressure, and blood oxygen levels. Sedatives may be given to help you relax or decrease pain. Patients will then lie down (generally on left side) while the colonoscope is passed through the end colon to the beginning of the colon (cecum), or end of the small intestine (terminal ileum). From here, the colonoscope is slowly pulled back while the doctor examines the lining of the colon.
Colonoscopy rarely causes severe pain, yet it may result in a feeling of cramping or bloating of the abdomen. The process generally takes between thirty minutes to an hour. If an abnormal area is detected then the doctor may use biopsy forceps to take a sample of the tissue, or use techniques to entirely remove the abnormal tissue, like a polyp.
After Your Colonoscopy
Following your colonoscopy, you may be kept in a recovery room until the sedative wears off. Some patients may experience minor cramping and bloating. While complications from colonoscopy are rare, bleeding may occur at the site of a biopsy or removed polyp. There is also the potential for a perforation of the colonic wall. If you experience severe abdominal pain, significant rectal bleeding, fever, or chills you should contact your doctor.
Colonoscopy Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Am I allowed to eat before my colonoscopy?
A: In order to ensure the safety of the patient, the stomach must be completely empty for the procedure. This is to eliminate risk of a patient aspirating the contents of their stomach into the lungs.
Q: What happens if my doctor finds a polyp during my exam?
A: A polyp does not necessarily mean you have cancer. Polyps are removed, however, to prevent them from potentially becoming cancerous.
Q: What should I do after my colonoscopy?
A: In addition to planning for someone to drive you home after the test, you should be sure to drink plenty of liquids and eat a meal to regain your energy. The type of the food that you may eat or drink will be specified on a paper after the procedure as part of the discharge instructions. The nurse will review these with you before discharge. You should also avoid alcohol and driving for 24 hours after the test. After 24 hours you can generally return to normal activities.
Contact a Los Angeles Colonoscopy Expert
If you are experiencing adverse symptoms and need a colonoscopy, please contact Los Angeles Integrative Gastroenterology & Nutrition. Call us at (310) 289-8000 or email us to set up your appointment.
Next, read about an endoscopy.