Colonoscopy is a procedure that enables a provider to view the inside of the entire large intestine, or colon, and rectum. It can also be used at the very end of the small intestine, called the ileum, where it joins with the large intestine. Dr. Patel, can you tell us more about colonoscopy?
Sure thing, Dr. Mansfield. Colonoscopies are very effective in diagnosing and evaluating gastrointestinal, or GI, disorders that affect the colon, including:
- Colon polyps and cancer
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea or constipation
- Abdominal pain, and
- Obstruction or blockage
Colonoscopy can also be used to take tissue samples, remove polyps, or control bleeding. Because the provider can view and treat the entire colon during the same procedure, colonoscopy is often considered the "gold standard" in screening for colorectal cancer.
During a colonoscopy, the provider passes a thin, flexible tube, called a colonoscope, through the anus into the rectum and colon. The colonoscope has a tiny camera at the end so that the provider can see inside the entire length of the colon. Tiny tools can also be passed through the colonoscope for taking tissue samples, removing polyps, or treating sources of bleeding, among other things.
Colonoscopy is usually done while the patient is under intravenous sedation, which makes the person very drowsy, but comfortable and still breathing on their own. Colonoscopies are not usually painful, but air or carbon dioxide used to inflate the colon in order to see better may cause some discomfort.