When is colonoscopy indicated?
Colonoscopy is the best method for detecting colorectal cancer. Since tumors are ever more prevalent, especially in life’s second half, it would be best for every man and woman above age fifty to undergo this examination. It is especially advised for those in whose family colorectal cancer is found or who had some type of bowel problems. The risk is increased by a sedentary life style, a low fiber and fatty diet and cigarette smoking.
What symptoms would be indicative of colorectal cancer?
Blood in the stool, change in bowel habits, feeling that your bowels do not empty completely, thin stools, recurring bloating, abdominal cramps, weight loss, anemia, general deterioration and weakness all could be signs of colorectal cancer, but, exact diagnosis can only be established with colonoscopy.
What preparations are required for the colonoscopy?
You will be required to keep a liquid diet for at least one day before the colonoscopy and prep and purge the colon with a special substance. If the gastroenterologist recommended a general procedure, then preliminary tests (laboratory and ECG) will also be required.
My medications – will I be able to take them before the examination?
Yes, you may usually take your regular medications (i.e., heart, blood pressure and asthma medications) the day before and on the day of your examination except for those iron compounds that turn your stool black, the various anticoagulants that increase the risk of heavy bleeding and the diabetes medications that, due to the decreased food intake during your diet, would be disturbing. It would be best if you would discuss with your gastroenterologist which medications should be suspended in your case.
What should I bring with me?
Bring your latest laboratory test results and your earlier examination report. Plan on not being able to drive immediately after the colonoscopy. It would be best if you were accompanied by someone.
What happens during the colonoscopy?
Lying on your side on the examination table, your emptied bowels will be blown up with a small amount of air to make it easy to penetrate. The colonoscope, a long, thin, flexible tube, will be inserted through the rectum to where the large and small intestines meet. The tube contains a light source and a video camera and a hook-like tool used for sample taking and for the immediate removal of smaller excess tissue. The intestine is examined while the scope is slowly being pulled out. After the examination and a short rest, the Patient may return home.
Is the examination painful?
If the patient is fully awake, the filling of the abdomen with air may cause abdominal distension and the scope when guided through the curves of the colon may be uncomfortable and, at times, cause painful cramps. Thus, we usually give the patient a light tranquilizer or the patient may request full anesthesia to not feel any pain at all.