What is a Colonoscopy and What Purpose Does It Serve?

A colonoscopy is an exam used to identify changes or abnormalities in the large intestine (colon) and rectum. The doctor uses a long, flexible tube that has a tiny light and camera on the end. The doctor inserts the tube into your rectum and guides it into your large intestine. There, the doctor can look at the inside of your colon and remove samples from any polyps or areas that don’t look right.

Your doctor may recommend you have a colonoscopy to explore causes of abdominal pain, chronic constipation or diarrhea, or rectal bleeding.

We also recommend having a colonoscopy as a routine procedure beginning at age 50 and every 10 years after that. Your doctor will look for signs of colon cancer, plus look for and remove recurring polyps to minimize your colon cancer risk. However, we may recommend screening at an earlier age if you have a family history of colon cancer or diagnosis of inflammatory bowel disease.

How Should I Prepare for the Procedure?

Before a colonoscopy exam, we’ll ask you to cleanse your colon to ensure we have a clear, unobscured view during the procedure. Your doctor will give you specific prep instructions that will tell you what and what not to eat or drink before your colonoscopy. We may also have you make temporary adjustments to medications you take. The doctor will determine whether you should have a sedative before your procedure to help you relax and make the exam more comfortable. If you do get a sedative, you will need to have someone drive you home.

What Should I Expect?

We perform colonoscopies at the Wyoming Endoscopy Center, which is right next door to Digestive Health Associates. After you check in, we’ll have you change into a gown. We may give you a mild sedative to help you relax. When it’s time for your procedure, we’ll have you lie on your side with your knees pulled up to your chest.

During the procedure, the doctor will guide the colonoscope tube into your rectum. The tube will also push air into your colon to inflate it and provide the doctor with the best view of the inner lining. This may cause you to experience abdominal cramping or feel the need to have a bowel movement. The colonoscope will capture images of your intestine and colon lining. The images will display on a screen so the doctor can review and analyze them. Should you need a polyp removed or a biopsy, your doctor will guide instruments into the colon and take tissue samples.

The colonoscopy procedure generally takes 20 minutes. If you had a sedative, you’ll need additional time for it to wear off. Following the exam you may experience mild pelvic discomfort. You may also feel bloated, have the urge to pass gas, or notice blood in your stool following your next bowel movement. Most patients can resume normal activities and diet the day after the procedure.

Your doctor will follow up with you to discuss your results and let you know if you need any additional testing.

Learn More About Colonoscopies

American Cancer Society

Mayo Clinic

National Cancer Institute

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At Digestive Health Associates of Cheyenne, we are dedicated to helping you achieve and maintain an optimal level of digestive health.