Colonoscopy is an internal examination that allows your doctor to look at the inner lining of your large intestine (rectum and colon). Doctor uses a thin, flexible tube called a colonoscope to look at the colon. A colonoscopy helps find ulcers, colon polyps, tumors, and areas of inflammation or bleeding. During a colonoscopy, tissue samples can be collected (biopsy) and abnormal growths can be taken out. Colonoscopy can also be used as a screening test to check for cancer or precancerous growths in the colon or rectum (polyps).
The colonoscope is a long and thin, flexible fiberoptic camera that allows the doctor to visualize your entire colon.
Before this test, you will need to clean out your colon (colon prep). Colon prep takes 1 to 2 days, depending on which type of prep your doctor recommends. Some preps should be taken in the evening before the test. For many people, the prep for a colonoscopy is more trying than the actual test. Plan to stay home during your prep time since you will need to use the bathroom often. The colon prep causes loose, frequent stools and diarrhea so that your colon will be empty for the test. The colon prep may be uncomfortable and you may feel hungry on the clear liquid diet. If you need to drink a special solution as part of your prep, be sure to have clear fruit juices or soft drinks to drink after the prep because the solution tastes salty.
Before the test, the sedative and pain medication will be given to relax you and make you feel drowsy. Many patients do not remember having the colonoscopy. A rectal examination usually is done before the test to widen the rectum and make sure there are no major obstructions. You may have the urge to defecate when the rectal exam is performed or as the colonoscope is inserted.
You may feel the pressure as the scope moves inside and also little cramping and gas pains as the scope advances and air is inserted. Passing gas is necessary and should be expected.
You can reduce discomfort by taking slow, deep breaths. This will also help relax the abdominal muscles. Mild abdominal cramping and considerable passing of gas may occur after the exam. Sedation should wear off in a few hours. Because of the sedation, you may not feel any discomfort and may have no memory of the test.
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