What is Colonoscopy?
Colonoscopy is a safe, minimally-invasive procedure used to examine the entire length of the colon (or large intestine) using a camera-mounted flexible tube inserted through the anus. It is capable of detecting very small lesions or abnormalities (less than 5mm in diameter) and allows the examiner to sample suspect tissue for biopsy as well as remove polyps or growths. Still photos are also captured and saved for use in diagnosis.
What is Colonoscopy used for?
Colonoscopy is commonly used to screen for:
- Colon Polyps
- Colon Cancer
Colonoscopy can also be employed to investigate:
- Gastrointestinal Bleeding
- Unexplained Anemia
- Persistent Diarrhea
- Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (Such as Colitis or Crohn's)
- Abdominal Pain
- Blood in the Stool
- Abnormalities found on a Colon X-Ray or CAT Scan.
People who have had previous incidence of colon polyps or cancer, a family history of colon cancer, or who are 50 years of age or older should consult with their physician to discuss an appropriate schedule for regular colonscopies as an aid in early diagnosis.
What are the possible complications?
Complications of the procedure are generally limited to perforation (a puncture or small hole) as well as bleeding and/or infection if a biopsy is performed, all of which are very rare. Reaction to the sedatives or medication used is also a possibility, so it is important to discuss your prior medical history with your doctor.
How to prepare for the procedure?
The colon must be completely empty in order to get clear and accurate results. This usually involves ingesting only liquids for one to three days prior to the procedure and may include enemas, laxatives, or a bowel irrigation. You will also need to discontinue some medications such as aspirin, blood thinners, insulin, arthritis medication, and iron supplements. Inform your doctor of your medical history, current medications, and any allergies (especially to pain medications and antibiotics. You will be given specific instructions before your scheduled test which must be followed exactly.
What to expect during the procedure?
Prior to the start of the procedure, an IV will be started for sedative and pain medicine; this will make you feel relaxed and drowsy. A monitor will also be set up to observe you vital signs. You will lie on your left side with your knees drawn up to your chest. After a rectal exam to check for blockages, the colonscope is gradually inserted through the anus into your colon. When the end of the scope reaches the start of your small bowel, it will slowly be drawn back through. Generally, it is easier to examine the colon as the scope is being withdrawn so this portion of the exam may go slower. During the exam, air may be blown into the colon to improve the camera's view. The entire procedure will last anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour.
What to expect after the procedure?
When the colonoscopy is over, you will be monitored as the effects of any medications you were given wear off. Side effects may include cramping or a bloated feeling, both of which are mild and are usually relieved by passing gas. You will be required to have someone else drive you home from the test. Generally you can resume eating right away, but if you have had any polyps or tissue removed for biopsy, your doctor might want you to follow a restricted diet for a few days.
Colonoscopy. We offer treatments for patients residing in Chicago (Lincoln Park, Lake View, Bucktown, West Town, Logan Square, Hermosa, Belmont Cragin, Belmont Gardens, Avondale, North Center, Irving Park, Portage Park, Albany Park Lincoln Square, Near West Side, East Garfield Park, Humboldt Park, Pilsen, Downtown) and Chicago Suburbs (Oak Park, Cicero, Harwood Heights, Norridge, Elmwood Park, River Grove, River Forest, Berwy, Skokie, Morton Grove, Park Ridge, Franklin Park, Melrose Park, Maywood, Stone Park Schiller Park).