What Is Colonoscopy? Find Answers to Your Questions Here
If you are approaching the age of 50, your doctor may tell you it’s time for your first colonoscopy. Colon cancer is the 3rd leading cause of death among all cancers. The gold standard to screen for colorectal cancer is a colonoscopy. Beverly Hills board certified gastroenterologist Peyton Berookim, MD, FACG, is always happy to answer patients’ questions about this procedure. Some questions come up quite often: “What is a colonoscopy? Why should I have it done? Does it hurt? What happens afterwards?” Below, you’ll find information to get you started on learning about this common test.
Why Have a Colonoscopy Procedure?
This procedure is the most accurate way to identify abnormal tissue, ulcers, and growths called polyps or adenomas that may become cancerous. While some patients have a colonoscopy to explore troubling symptoms such as rectal bleeding or changes in their bowel movements, this test is most often used for cancer screening in apparently healthy individuals age 50 or older. Dr. Berookim can view the interior lining of the colon and remove colon polyps as part of the same procedure. Most polyps are benign. However, removal allows for testing to check the tissue for signs of cancer and also prevents the polyps from ever progressing to become cancer.
What Is Preparation for Colonoscopy Like?
The colon needs to be clean and empty of contents to provide a clear view. A day or more before the procedure, patients switch to a liquid diet (handout provided) including items such as fat-free broth and fruit juices with the pulp removed. Patients also need to drink an electrolyte balanced cleansing solution that contains a laxative. For your convenience, our office uses a low volume preparation so it is easier to comply with the instructions.
What Is the Procedure for Colonoscopy Like?
During this test, a narrow, flexible tube called a colonoscope is inserted into the rectum and passed through the entire length of the colon up to the opening called the “cecum” which is the beginning part of the large intestine. The scope is equipped with a tiny light and camera that provide a clear view of the colon. The colon is gently inflated with carbon dioxide to expand the tissue for accurate assessment. As the scope is very slowly withdrawn, the colon is inspected for signs of polyps, ulcers or other abnormalities. If necessary, other instruments can be inserted through the scope to remove polyps and stop any minor bleeding that may occur during biopsy. The test typically takes about half an hour.
Does the Colonoscopy Hurt?
Prior to the procedure, patients are given a sedative through an IV and therefore experience no pain. The patient lies on their left side for this procedure and the level of sedation can be adjusted throughout the test if needed. After the test is finished, patients rest for up to an hour before being driven home. By the following day, patients can resume their normal activities.
Is this your first time having a colonoscopy? Beverly Hills gastroenterologist Dr. Berookim and his staff are dedicated to making sure you have answers to all your questions. Call 310.271.1122 to schedule your consultation today.