What is a Colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy performed by a board certified gastroenterologist is a procedure used to diagnose irregularities in your large intestine, such as inflammation, bleeding, ulcers, tumors, or polyps. A camera on a flexible tube moves through the colon allowing, the gastroenterologist to examine your entire colon.
If tumors or polyps are found, the doctor can take biopsies or even remove the entire growth to reduce the likelihood of colon cancer. Depending on the results of your colonoscopy, these screenings are recommended between every 3 to 10 years.
Who Needs a Colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is a vital problem-solving examination suggested for everyone over 50 years of age (45 years for African Americans). If someone in your family has a history of colon cancer or polyps, ask your gastroenterologist if they recommend a colonoscopy before the age of 50 to guard against colon cancer.
Colonoscopies reduce cancer rates by detecting and removing pre-cancerous polyps and tumor. Early detection means early treatment.
If you have certain symptoms, such as blood in your stool or changes in your bowel habits, your doctor may also suggest a colonoscopy to determine the cause.
What is Colonoscopy Prep?
You will need to prepare for your colonoscopy by modifying your eating and drinking habits for 1-2 days prior to the procedure. While specific instructions for prep vary by physician, you will definitely be on a clear liquid diet for an extended period, and you will ingest a treatment designed to cleanse your bowels.
You should make arrangements to remain at home during your colonoscopy preparation, because you will need private bathroom access as preparation generally causes loose stools and diarrhea.
While this part of the process is uncomfortable, it is crucial to clear your bowels completely in order for the gastroenterologist to perform your colonoscopy. Please be sure to read the prep instructions several days before your procedure and follow them precisely, otherwise you may be required to reschedule your colonoscopy.