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.
Before a colonoscopy exam, we’ll ask you to cleanse your colon to ensure we have a clear, unobscured view during the procedure. We’ll provide you with specific dietary instructions, laxatives, and an enema kit. 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.