The Basics: What Is a Colonoscopy?
Doctors perform a colonoscopy when they want to examine the large intestine (which includes the colon and rectum) for alarming changes or abnormalities. By inserting a long, thin, flexible tube into your rectum, a colonoscopy doctor can examine the lining of the large intestine.
Equipped with a tiny camera and a small light, the scope can take images of the area and transmit them back to the medical team. The procedure can also be used to perform a biopsy or remove abnormal growths.
Why Perform a Colonoscopy?
There are many reasons for performing a colonoscopy. Your physician may order one if you’ve experienced any of the following:
- Black or bloody stools
- Chronic diarrhea
- Abnormal CT scans or MRIs
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Iron deficiency anemia
- Unexplained weight loss
Frequently, a colonoscopy doctor in Los Angeles will use the procedure to test for rectal or colon cancer. In some cases, they will perform a biopsy in order to confirm or deny a colorectal cancer diagnosis. Colonoscopies can also detect the presence of other potentially dangerous conditions of the large intestine, including:
- Benign tumors
How to Prepare for a Colonoscopy
In order for a colonoscopy to succeed, you must first do a little preparation. Colonoscopy prep requires a cleansing of the colon. The point is to remove anything that might block the doctor’s view of your intestine or that might confuse the results of the test (the presence of red liquid, for example, might be confused with blood).
Usually, your doctor will ask you to follow a strict colonoscopy diet—no solid foods and only clear liquids for one to two days before the procedure. She may also ask you to avoid all food and drink starting at midnight on the night before the exam. In addition to the diet, you may have to take a laxative or perform an enema in order to clear the large intestine of any obstructions.
What to Expect During a Colonoscopy
Before the test, your medical team may give you a mild sedative and/or a painkiller. They will then ask you to put on a medical gown. You’ll lie on your side and pull your knees up to your stomach so they can begin the procedure.
After inserting the tube, he will inflate the intestine with air so he can get a better picture of the inside. At this point, most people feel some degree of cramping in their abdomen.
You may feel as if you need to make a bowel movement. Breathing deeply through your mouth can sometimes ease the discomfort by relaxing your muscles.
When to Get a Colonoscopy
Anyone over the age of 50 should schedule a colonoscopy. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer, or if you’ve ever had adenomas, you might want to go in for an exam earlier. People with inflammatory bowel disease might also want to ask their doctor about a colonoscopy. Typically, patients schedule a test every 10 years if everything looks normal. If the results are abnormal, ask your doctor when and how often to schedule the next procedure.
Where to Get a Colonoscopy in Los Angeles
Undergoing a colonoscopy can be stressful. Between the preparation, the test, and the wait for the results, many patients experience both mental and physical discomfort. At the Surgery Group of LA, we know how trying a colonoscopy can be. Combining state-of-the-art medical facilities with compassionate, patient-centered care, we work hard to make every procedure as stress-free and painless as possible. Call us today to schedule a colonoscopy in Los Angeles.
Potential Colonoscopy Side Effects
A colonoscopy is a relatively safe procedure, carrying few risks. That being said, potential side effects can occur. Depending on the type of procedure, risks could include:
- Perforation of the intestine wall
- Bleeding after a biopsy or tissue removal
- Reactions to any sedatives administered before the test
It’s best to discuss the risks with your doctor before scheduling a procedure.