Colonoscopy is a procedure that enables the Dr. Raoufi to perform a careful, thorough examination of the large intestine. A thin flexible tube is inserted into the rectum and advanced through the entire five- to six-foot length of colon. The examination can detect an abnormality present within the inner lining of the colon, such as a tumor or polyp, or an area of inflammation or infection.
Screening for colon cancer and rectal cancer is an important function of colonoscopy. Cancer of the large bowel, also referred to as colorectal cancer, usually develops from a benign precursor, a polyp. Removing colon polyps will reduce the chances of developing colorectal cancer by 87-93%. In order to achieve this level of success in cancer prevention, colonoscopy should be performed in healthy individuals before the symptoms of bowel cancer are present.
Colonoscopy is also recommended for a number of other reasons. Some of the more common symptoms include:
- Rectal bleeding
- Iron-deficiency anemia
- Recent change of bowel habits
- Abdominal pain
- Persistent diarrhea
Individuals with an extended history of ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease, a personal history of colon polyps or cancer, or a family history of either polyps or cancer of the colon require periodic examination of the colon.
Routine colonoscopy to look for early signs of cancer should begin at age 50 for most people—and earlier if there is a family history of colorectal cancer, a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease, or other risk factors. The doctor can advise patients about how often to get a colonoscopy.
To ensure a successful colonoscopy, it’s vital for the patient to adequately prepare for the procedure. All solids must be emptied from the gastrointestinal tract by following a clear liquid diet for one to three days before the procedure. Patients should not drink beverages containing red or purple dye.Download our Colonoscopy Bowel Prep Guide
How is colonoscopy performed?
During colonoscopy, the patient lies on his/her left side on an examination table. In most cases, a light sedative, and possibly pain medication, helps keep the patient relaxed. Deeper sedation may be required in some cases. The doctor and medical staff monitor vital signs and attempt to make patients as comfortable as possible.
The doctor inserts a long, flexible, lighted tube called a colonoscope, or scope, into the anus and slowly guides it through the rectum and into the colon. The scope inflates the large intestine with carbon dioxide to give the doctor a better view. A small camera mounted on the scope transmits video from inside the large intestine to a computer screen, allowing the doctor to carefully examine the intestinal lining. The doctor may ask the patient to move periodically so the scope can be adjusted for better viewing.
Once the scope has reached the opening to the small intestine, it is slowly withdrawn and the lining of the large intestine is carefully examined again. Bleeding and puncture of the large intestine are possible but uncommon complications of colonoscopy – and very rare at NYGA.
Colonoscopy usually takes 30 to 60 minutes. Cramping or bloating may occur during the first hour after the procedure. The sedative takes time to completely wear off. Patients may need to remain at the clinic for one to two hours after the procedure. Full recovery is expected by the next day. Discharge instructions should be carefully read and followed.
NOTE: Driving is not permitted for 12 to 24 hours after a colonoscopy to allow sedatives time to completely wear off. Before the appointment, patients should make plans for a ride home.
Patients who develop any of these rare side effects should contact their doctor immediately:
- Severe abdominal pain
- Bloody bowel movements