Have to Undergo a Colonoscopy? Here’s What to Expect


A colonoscopy is a noninvasive outpatient operation that employs a colonoscope to examine the lower GI tract, including the large intestine (colon) and the rectum.

A colonoscope is a long, thin tube containing a light and a viewing device that transmits images to a monitor. A colonoscopy is most commonly used to screen for colon polyps or cancer. A gastroenterologist may also perform a colonoscopy to diagnose digestive or inflammatory problems.

A colonoscopy can assist in determining the reason for abdominal pain, bleeding, weight loss, or changes in bowel habits. It can also be used to do a biopsy on aberrant tissue, manage to bleed, and remove polyps.

Most people should get a screening colonoscopy at age 45, with a 10-year follow-up. Suppose you've got a family history of colorectal cancer, a personal history of inflammatory bowel illness, or any other risk factors. In that case, you should start screening sooner and follow up more frequently as directed by your doctor.

Quality Measures for Colonoscopy

One critical quality indicator for colonoscopy is the adenoma detection rate or ADR. A physician's ADR rate represents the percentage of precancerous adenomas discovered after a colonoscopy. The national average for ADR is 30% in men and 20% in women. Asc your doctor about their ADR rates before undergoing colonoscopy.

What bowel preparation is needed for colonoscopy?

If the process is to be comprehensive and accurate, the colon must be thoroughly cleaned, and there are numerous colonoscopy preparations available. Patients are provided explicit instructions for the cleansing preparation. In general, this entails drinking a substantial amount of a particular cleansing solution or following a clear liquid diet and using laxatives or enemas before the test. These directions must be followed exactly as written, or the technique will be unsatisfactory (visualization of the colon lining may be hidden by residual stool), and it will have to be repeated, or a less accurate alternate test will have to be used instead.

Certain items, such as stringy meals, seeds, or red Jell-O, may also be avoided for a few days before the surgery.

Can I take my medications before a colonoscopy? Is there a special diet?

Most drugs should be taken as usual, but a few may interfere with the assessment. It is ideal if the colonoscopist is aware of all current prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Aspirin products, blood thinners like warfarin (Coumadin), arthritis drugs, insulin, and iron preparations are all examples of medications that may necessitate particular instructions. The colonoscopist should also know about a patient's sensitivities and any other serious illnesses. The colonoscopist should be notified if patients have previously required antibiotics to prevent infections before surgical or dental procedures.

What should I expect during a colonoscopy?

Before the colonoscopy, intravenous fluids are administered, and the patient is placed on a monitor for continuous monitoring of heart rhythm, blood pressure, and oxygen levels in the blood. Sedative medications are typically administered via an intravenous line to induce sleep and relaxation while also reducing pain. If necessary, the patient may be given extra medicine during the surgery. Colonoscopy typically causes abdominal pressure, cramping, and bloating; but, with medication, it is usually well tolerated and seldom causes significant discomfort.

Patients will lie on their left side or back as the colonoscope is gradually advanced. When the colonoscope reaches the tip of the colon (cecum) or the end of the small intestine (terminal ileum), it is slowly withdrawn and the colon lining is carefully examined. A colonoscopy normally lasts 15 to 60 minutes. If the entire colon cannot be viewed, the physician may elect to repeat the colonoscopy at a later date, with or without a different bowel preparation, or to request an X-ray or CT of the colon.

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