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A colonoscopy is  a medical exam in which a tool known as  colonoscope is used to view the inside of the entire  colon ( large intestine ) and rectum. The procedure can show irritated and swollen tissues, ulcers and polyps. A colonoscopy is performed by a  gastroenterologist.


It is performed for the following reasons


The risks associated with this procedure includes

  • bleeding
  • perforation –  a hole or tear in the lining of the colon
  • severe abdominal pain
  • diverticulitis
  • cardiovascular problems such as low blood pressure, heart attack and abnormal heart beat


You will be given light anesthesia and pain medication to help you relax during the procedure.  The anesthesia is given through a vein ( intravenously). The individual will lie on a table while the gastroenterologist inserts a colonoscope into the anus, slowly making it’s way into the rectum and then to the colon.Air is inserted through the scope to give a better view. Stool and other fluids may be suctioned out. The camera on the scope send video images of the intestinal lining onto a computer screen. Polyps can be removed during this procedure and sent to the lab for testing. The gastroenterologist may also take a small sample of intestinal lining to be observed under a microscope ( biopsy ). The procedure usually takes 30 to 60 minutes

NOTE : Polyps are usually harmless but most colon cancers begin as polyps. Removing polyps early is therefore an effective way of preventing colon cancer


Before the procedure is done, you will need to cleanse your intestines. Your health care provider will give you steps for cleansing. It may include an enema, not eating solid foods for a couple of days or laxatives. You may be asked by your doctor to stop taking certain medications such as blood thinners and iron pills


After the test, you may feel sleepy for a while. You may also experience some headaches, feel bloated or sick to your stomach. You may also pass a lot of gas. You should be able to go home in about an hour after the procedure

Colonoscopy. The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Accessed January 3, 2014

Colonoscopy . American Society of Colon & Rectal Surgeons. Accessed January 3, 2014

Colonoscopy. American College of Surgeons. Accessed January 3, 2014

Colonoscopy. National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus. Accessed January 3, 2014

The American Heritage® Stedman’s Medical Dictionary. Retrieved January 2014 from website.

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