Colonoscopy is a safe, effective method of examining and diagnosing condition of the large bowel ( colon and rectum) using a long, flexible, tubular instrument. Most colonoscopies are done on an outpatient basis.
It is an effective method for screening for colorectal cancer. Malignant growths can be detected and biopsied and asymptomatic polyps can be removed before malignant transformation occurs.
Colonoscopy is routinely recommended to adults 50 years of age or older as part of a colorectal cancer screening program.
Patients with a family history of colon or rectal cancer may have their colonoscopy at age 40.
A colonoscopy may be necessary for:
Unexplained abdominal symptoms
Recent change of bowel habits
Iron deficiency Anaemia
Bleeding from rectum or positive for blood in the stool
Inflammatory bowel disease (colitis)
Verify findings of polyps or tumors in barium enema exam
The large intestine needs to be clear of faeces for adequate visualization. Medication to evacuate stool plus a low fiber diet for 3 days prior is advised:
Simple carbohydrates (white rice, white bread, potatoes)
Fruits and vegetables including fresh fruit and vegetable juices
Cereals and grains e.g. oats, bran, wheat, muesli, barley nuts and beans
Oral medications to be stopped before colonoscopy:
Iron supplements (1 week before appointment)
Anticoagulation medications e.g. aspirin, ticlid, wafarin (5 days before appointment)
Driving is not permitted for 12 hours after colonoscopy to allow the sedative time to wear off. Before the appointment, patients should make arrangements for a ride home.
Patients lie on their left side on an examination table. A light intravenous sedative, and pain medication.
A long, flexible, lighted tube is inserted into the anus and slowly guided through the rectum and into the colon. Video image from inside can be viewed on a monitor by a camera, allowing the doctor to carefully examine the sigmoid colon and rectum.
A doctor can remove polyps or biopsy of abnormal tissues or growth during colonoscopy and send them for histpathological examination for signs of cancer.
Colonoscopy usually takes 30 to 60 minutes.
Following the colonoscopy, there may be slight discomfort or bloating , which quickly improves with the expelling of gas.
Patients may need to remain at the clinic for 1 to 2 hours after the procedure. Most patients can resume their regular diet and activities the same day. Driving is not permitted for 12 hours after colonoscopy.