What is a colonoscopy?If you are over 50 and have not had a colonoscopy, it is time that you did.
A colonoscopy (koh-luh-NAH-skuh-pee) allows your physician to look inside the entire large intestine and to see things such as inflamed tissue, abnormal growths, and ulcers. It is most often used to look for early signs of cancer in the colon and rectum. It is also used to look for causes of unexplained changes in bowel habits and to evaluate symptoms like abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, and weight loss.
The Colon & Rectal Clinic (CRC), with its nationally-recognized surgeons and fellowship training program, is the established leader in the field of colon and rectal surgery. Our skilled colorectal surgeons perform thousands of diagnostic and surgical colorectal procedures each year.
Preparing for a Colonoscopy is CriticalYour colon must be completely empty for the colonoscopy to be thorough and safe. To prepare for the colonoscopy you must follow a liquid diet one day before your procedure. The liquid diet should be clear and not contain food colorings, and may include:
- Fat-free bouillon or broth
- Strained fruit juice
- Plain coffee
- Plain tea
- Diet soda
Thorough cleansing of the bowel is a necessary part of the preparation for a colonoscopy. You will likely be asked to take a strong laxative the night before the procedure. In some cases you may be asked to give yourself an enema by inserting a bottle with water and sometimes a mild soap into your anus to clean out the bowels.
Be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions you have such as heart disease, lung disease, or medications you take on a regular basis such as:
- Arthritis medications
- Blood thinners
- Diabetes medication
- Vitamins that contain iron
Arrange for someone to take you home afterward, because you will not be allowed to drive after being sedated.
A Colonoscopy Can Often Prevent Cancers From FormingA colonoscopy usually takes 30 to 60 minutes and is generally performed in a hospital or day surgery facility. You will be given pain medication and a moderate sedative to keep you comfortable and help you relax during the exam.
As you lie on your left side your Colon & Rectal Clinic physician inserts a long, flexible, lighted tube into your rectum and slowly guides it into your colon. The tube, called a colonoscope (koh-LON-oh-skope), transmits an image of the inside of the colon onto a video screen so the doctor can carefully examine the lining of your colon.
The scope is flexible so that it can be easily maneuvered around the curves of your colon. The scope blows air into your colon, inflating it slightly to give the doctor a better view.
Small tissue samples and most abnormal growths, like a polyp in the colon, can be removed through the scope. Most colon polyps are not cancerous, but just looking at a polyp is not enough to tell if it is cancerous. All tissue samples are sent to a lab for testing. By identifying and removing polyps, a colonoscopy likely prevents most cancers from forming and allows for accurate diagnosis and treatment of colon abnormalities without the need for a major operation.
Recovery Is Fast Following Your ColonoscopyMost patients feel little discomfort during the colonoscopy and do not remember the procedure afterwards. You may feel some cramping or the sensation of having gas after the procedure is completed, but it usually stops within an hour. Once the sedative wears off, generally within 1 to 2 hours, you will be released and can go home.
Read your discharge instructions carefully. Medications such as blood-thinners may need to be stopped for a short time after having your colonoscopy, especially if a biopsy was performed or polyps were removed.
Full recovery by the next day is normal and expected and you may return to your regular activities.
The Colon & Rectal Clinic has seven convenient locations throughout Houston. Contact the Clinic nearest you and schedule your colonoscopy today.