Colonoscopy is a medical procedure to examine the inside of the gut (colon & rectum) with the help of a colonoscope (a thin, flexible, hollow, light tube with a small camera on the end).
Colonoscope is a thin, flexible, hollow, light tube with a small camera on the end. It is used to visualize the interior of colon.
Colonoscopy is done to find:
- Colon Polyps
- Tumors/cancer (As a part of screening of Cancer or suspicion of cancer)
- Blood in Stools
- Areas of inflammation
- Reason for abdominal pain, constipation/diarrhea, weight loss
- Reason for Iron Deficiency Anaemia
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Ulcerative Colitis/Crohn’s Disease)
- To diagnose the cause of abnormal results from any test (MRI, stool test, CT scan).
- In case the patient gets an abnormal report, he/she should consult a gastroenterologist regarding the problem and the gastroenterologist will guide them further.
Before the colonoscopy test is done:
- The bowel has to be as clear as possible so that the doctors can get a good view of the inside.
- The patient has to avoid certain foods and medicines and the doctor might put him/her on a clear liquid diet (which includes green tea, juices, water, and clear broths) for one day or more.
- Strong laxative tablets or solutions (such as Golytely or Nulytely) are also given to clean out the colon, and sometimes enema is also given. The laxatives start working very quickly and after taking them the patient might need to go to the bathroom frequently, so it is recommended that the patient stay at home before the day of the test.
- The doctor will give you instructions prior to the colonoscopy test but if you have some concerns, you should talk to the doctor about it without any hesitation.
- The patient should drink plenty of water, so that they do not get dehydrated.
- The patient should stop drinking clear liquids 6 – 8 hours before the test.
- The patient is not allowed to drive for 24 hours after the test, so he/she should arrange for a mode of transport beforehand.
- You may feel discomfort after the procedure.
- It may take few hours to a day to recover completely from the effects of sedatives.
- You may feel bloated & pass lot of gas after the procedure.
- You may experience small amount of blood in stools after the procedure.
- Some patients may experience fever for few days.
There are some precautions that a patient should take after the procedure:
- The patient should not drive a car or use heavy machinery for 24 hours because of the sedatives.
- If a polyp is removed, then the doctor will give you a special diet to follow for some time.
- The patients should consume plenty of fluids after the test.
- The patient should avoid any intake of alcohol for some time.
- There might be a small amount of blood with the first bowel movement after the test is performed, but if it persists the patient should consult a doctor.
Colonoscopy has very few side effects and there is rarely any complication in the procedure.
Some side effects that can occur are:
- Adverse reaction to sedatives
- Heavy bleeding in the rectal area
- A tear in the rectum wall or colon, know as perforation
- Bleeding at the site from where the tissue was taken
- Having swelling or firmness in the belly
- Severe abdominal pain
- Cardiovascular problems like low blood pressure, increase or decrease in heart rate, heart attack etc.