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Understanding Colonoscopy

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What is colonoscopy?

Colonoscopy is a diagnostic test to examine the lining of the colon (large intestine)and rectum for any abnormalities. The instrument used to perform this procedure in known as Colonoscope, which is made of thin long flexible tube with a light and tiny camera on its tip. This diagnostic modality allows doctors to view images thatcan show visible cancer characteristics such as polyps (mushroom like growth), ulcers, tumours and swollen tissues and is regarded as the best diagnostic treatment to diagnosebowel cancer. Colonoscopy is extensively used toscreen for colon cancer.

When it is advised to go for colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy will beperformed for diseases that are localized to lower GI track – the colon and rectal diseases.

Colonoscopy is advised by a doctor when a person experiences

  • Frank Blood in the stool
  • Abnormalities in bowel activity (constipation or diarrhoea)
  • Sudden or Long-standingdiarrhoea
  • Isolated unexplainedabdominal pain
  • Unintentional weight loss with or without abdominal symptoms

Also, Doctors recommend Colonoscopy as a screening test for colorectal cancer and for individuals with a previous history of polyps or colon cancer. The procedure is also used to excisepolypswhich inturn prevents polyps fromturning cancerous, to stop bleeding, dilatation of colon (in stenosis) and any foreign body removal from lower GI.

How do doctors perform colonoscopy?

Colonoscopy is performed by a GI specialist in a hospital and the entire procedure may take around 45 minutes.

  • The person will be sedated to numb the pain and relax during the procedure.
  • Continuous monitoring of blood pressure and heart rhythm will be done prior to the procedure and during colonoscopy.
  • During the procedure, the doctor passes a colonoscope into the patient's anus and slowly makes it through the rectum and colon.
  • The scope pumps air into the large intestine. The tiny camera sends an image of the intestinal lining to a monitor, allowing the doctor to examine.
  • Once the tip of the colon is reached, the doctor will slowly withdraw the colonoscope after examining.

During the treatment if the doctor identifies any abnormalities over the image sent to monitor, a biopsy forceps can be passed to collect the sample of the tissue to be sent to lab for further examination.

What preparation is required for colonoscopy procedure?

Patients are advised to complete the bowel prep as an important part of preparation which facilitates the doc to view colon clearly.For a better view of the image and better analysis, preparation from patient’s side is required.

  • Special diet a day prior to the planned colonoscopy: Avoid solid food, consume clear fluids ( water, tender-coconut water, black tea etc), avoid red liquid that may be confused with blood, you may be asked not to eat or drink anything after midnight.
  • Laxatives: The doctor will ask a patient to drink a special preparation which may cause diarrhoea.
  • Enema: In some cases, enema is used a few hours prior to the procedure.

Please keep the doctor informed of this elective procedures so that appropriate adjustments can be made on your current medications, such as blood thinning agents like warfarin, rivroxaban, dabigatran to reduce the risk of blood clots.

What happens post colonoscopy?

Cramping and bloating will be common and will fade quickly when gas is passed out. On a safer point of view, the patient will be advised against driving and will be strongly recommended to get a ride after the procedure. It is advised to take special diet for a short period of time.