• What Is A Colonoscopy?
Colonoscopy is also called a coloscopy.
Colon cancer is also called colorectal cancer.
What Is A Colonoscopy?
Colonoscopy is a diagnostic test that involves examining the large intestines using a flexible viewing tube inserted through the anus. It is used in cases of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and in screening for colon cancer. If colon polyps are discovered (small growths on the intestine wall), they will be snipped off and sent to a lab to see if they are precancerous or not. The procedure takes 20 minutes to an hour and the patient is awake, but heavily sedated.
Colonoscopy can also diagnose:
What Is The Difference Between Colonoscopy And Sigmoidoscopy?
The tests are similar, the only difference being which part of the colon is examined. With colonoscopy, the entire colon is investigated (1200 to 1500mm in length). With a sigmoidoscopy, only the first part of the colon (known as the distal portion, about 600mm in length) is examined. While colonoscopy is more accurate, a sigmoidoscopy can suffice as a regular screening tool because colon cancer survival rates only appear to improve when cancer is detected in the distal portion.
To prepare for your test, you need to clean out your colon so that the doctors can view it more easily. To do this, your doctor may ask you to:
You will need to remove all your clothes and wear a hospital gown. Some patients are given a pill to sedate them, others are put on an IV drip to give pain medications. You begin your test by lying on the examination table with your knees drawn towards the chest. The clinician will insert a scope called a colonoscope into your rectum. It will be gradually fed further and further into the colon. The colonoscope has a light and video camera attached and images of your colon will be transferred to a nearby monitor. Air is pumped through the scope to expand your colon, so that it can be viewed more easily. You may feel some cramping and the urge to pass a bowel movement (the laxatives will have emptied your bowels, so don't worry, nothing is left to come out). If polyps are discovered, or the doctor wants to take a sample of tissue for biopsy, other instruments can be inserted through the scope.
No, it does not hurt. The staff will do everything possible to help you relax and feel comfortable. Most patients report feeling 'out of it' because of the sedatives they receive and often say it’s over before they even realize it. Even though you are awake, you may not remember it very well.
After The Procedure
1. You can go home after the exam, but arrange for someone to drive you because it can take a day for the sedative to wear off.
The risk of serious complications are very low (less than 1 percent). The most serious risk is that of gastrointestinal perforation (accidentally puncturing a hole in the colon), which is life threatening and needs immediate surgical repair. Less serious complications include the risk of dehydration caused by taking laxatives before the test. To avoid this, you should drink large quantities of water for a few days before your test.
When To Call A Doctor
The following are early signs of complications after a colonoscopy:
Because many people dislike the unpleasant invasiveness of a colonoscopy, researchers developed an alternative called a virtual colonoscopy (CT colonoscopy). Basically it involves taking a CT scan of the colon from the outside, without the need to insert a colonoscope. A thin tube will be inserted into the rectum to pump gas into the colon to expand it so that better images can be taken, but it is not as invasive as the colonoscope. No sedation is necessary. While better at discovering large knobby polyps than the traditional colonoscopy, the CT colonoscopy is less effective at finding small flat ones. Furthermore, a virtual screening does not allow for the removal of polyps if they are found. In 2008 the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force decided not to support CT colonoscopy for screening of cancer anymore.
Without insurance: The average cost for those who are uninsured is about $3,000. If a polyp is removed, expect to pay an additional $200-$300.
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For more health information, see the following:
• Vaccinations for women: List of recommended vaccines.
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