Colonoscopy

What is a Colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is a procedure that lets your health care provider check the inside of your entire colon (large intestine). The procedure is done using a long, flexible tube called a colonoscope. The tube has a light and a tiny camera on one end. It is put in your rectum and moved into your colon. In addition to letting your provider see the inside of your colon, the tube can be used to:

  • Clean the lining of your colon using irrigation (a water jet)
  • Remove any liquid stool with a suction device
  • Inject air into your bowel to make it easier to see inside
  • Work inside your bowel with surgical tools

During a colonoscopy, your provider may remove tissue or polyps (abnormal growths) for further examination. He or she may also be able to treat problems that are found.

Why might I need a colonoscopy?

Colonoscopy can help your provider look for problems in your colon. These include any early signs of cancer, inflamed (red or swollen) tissue, ulcers (open sores) and bleeding.

Cancer Screening

The ACS recommends that people at average risk* of colorectal cancer start regular screening at age 45. This can be done either with a sensitive test that looks for signs of cancer in a person’s stool (a stool-based test), or with an exam that looks at the colon and rectum (a visual exam). These options are listed below. People who are in good health and with a life expectancy of more than 10 years should continue regular colorectal cancer screening through the age of 75.

For people ages 76 through 85, the decision to be screened should be based on a person’s preferences, life expectancy, overall health, and prior screening history. People over 85 should no longer get colorectal cancer screening.

For screening, people are considered to be at average risk if they do not have:

  • A personal history of colorectal cancer or certain types of polyps
  • A family history of colorectal cancer
  • A personal history of inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease)
  • A confirmed or suspected hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome, such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or Lynch syndrome (hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer or HNPCC)
  • A personal history of getting radiation to the abdomen (belly) or pelvic area to treat a prior cancer

Colonoscopy is also used to screen for colon cancer and rectal cancer. Screening involves looking for cancer in individuals who do not have any symptoms of the disease. Colonoscopy can also be used to check the colon after cancer treatment.

Checking and Treating Problems

A colonoscopy may be used to check and, if needed, treat problems such as:

  • Colon polyps
  • Tumors
  • Ulcerations
  • Inflammation
  • Diverticula (pouches) along the colon wall
  • Narrowed areas (strictures) of the colon
  • Any objects that might be in the colon

It may also be used to find the cause of unexplained, chronic (long-term) diarrhea or bleeding in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

Make an Appointment

Please call our office for more information or to schedule an appointment.

Call 858-207-3117