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Colonoscopy

A colonoscopy is a common gastrointestinal procedure used to view the large intestine. Dr. Cofrancesco and Dr. Quijano use the procedure to detect inflammation, ulcers, polyps, and colon cancer. If you have experienced sudden weight loss, constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, bleeding from the anus, then a colonoscopy could help determine the cause of your issue. Dr. Cofrancesco and Dr. Quijano recommend routine colonoscopies if you are over the age of 50 or have a family member that has had colon cancer. If you are intimidated about having a colonoscopy, you can view our article on “Taking the Scary out of Colonoscopy.”

If you want to learn more about colonoscopies, continue reading below.

  • What is colonoscopy?
  • What are the colon and rectum?
  • How to prepare for Colonoscopy
  • How is colonoscopy performed?
  • At what age should routine colonoscopy begin?
  • Points to Remember

What is colonoscopy?

Colonoscopy is a procedure used to see inside the colon and rectum. Colonoscopy can detect inflamed tissue, ulcers, and abnormal growths. The procedure is used to look for early signs of colorectal cancer and can help Dr. Cofrancesco and Dr. Quijano diagnose unexplained changes in bowel habits, abdominal pain, bleeding from the anus, and weight loss.

What are the colon and rectum?

The colon and rectum are the two main parts of the large intestine. Although the colon is only one part of the large intestine, because most of the large intestine consists of colon, the two terms are often used interchangeably. The large intestine is also sometimes called the large bowel.

Digestive waste enters the colon from the small intestine as a semisolid. As waste moves toward the anus, the colon removes moisture and forms stool. The rectum is about 6 inches long and connects the colon to the anus. Stool leaves the body through the anus. Muscles and nerves in the rectum and anus control bowel movements.

How to prepare for Colonoscopy

The process for preparing for a colonoscopy is called a bowel prep. Generally, all solids must be emptied from the gastrointestinal tract by following a clear liquid diet for 1 to 3 days before the procedure.

To view Dr. Cofrancesco and Dr. Quijano’s specific bowel prep instructions, click here.

To view Dr. Cofrancesco and Dr. Quijano’s “Do’s and Don’ts” for colonoscopy click here.

You should inform Dr. Cofrancesco or Dr. Quijano of all medical conditions and any medications, vitamins, or supplements taken regularly.

Driving is not permitted for 24 hours after colonoscopy to allow the sedative time to wear off. Before the appointment, you should make plans for a ride home.

How is colonoscopy performed?

Examination of the Large Intestine

During colonoscopy, you lie on your left side on an examination table. In most cases, you will be provided a sedative and pain medication for the procedure. The hospital staff staff will monitor vital signs and attempt to make you as comfortable as possible.

Dr. Cofrancesco or Dr. Quijano inserts a long, flexible, lighted tube called a colonoscope, or scope, into the anus and slowly guides it through the rectum and into the colon. The scope inflates the large intestine with carbon dioxide gas to give the doctor a better view. A small camera mounted on the scope transmits a video image from inside the large intestine to a computer screen, allowing the doctors to carefully examine the intestinal lining. Dr. Cofrancesco or Dr. Quijano may move you periodically so the scope can be adjusted for better viewing.

Once the scope has reached the opening to the small intestine, it is slowly withdrawn and the lining of the large intestine is carefully examined again. Bleeding and puncture of the large intestine are possible but uncommon complications of colonoscopy.

Removal of Polyps and Biopsy

Dr. Cofrancesco and Dr. Quijano can remove growths, called polyps, during colonoscopy and later test them in a laboratory for signs of cancer. Polyps are common in adults and are usually harmless. However, most colorectal cancer begins as a polyp, so removing polyps early is an effective way to prevent cancer.

Dr. Cofrancesco and Dr. Quijano can also take samples from abnormal-looking tissues during colonoscopy. The procedure, called a biopsy, allows a pathologist to later look at the tissue with a microscope for signs of disease.

Dr. Cofrancesco and Dr. Quijano remove polyps and takes biopsy tissue using tiny tools passed through the scope. If bleeding occurs, Dr. Cofrancesco or Dr. Quijano can usually stop it with an electrical probe or special medications passed through the scope. Tissue removal and the treatments to stop bleeding are usually painless.

Recovery

Colonoscopy usually takes 15 minutes. Cramping or bloating may occur during the first hour after the procedure. The sedative takes time to completely wear off. You may need to remain at the hospital clinic for 30 minutes after the procedure. Full recovery is expected by the next day. Discharge instructions should be carefully read and followed.

If you develop any of these rare side effects, you should contact Dr. Cofrancesco or Dr. Quijano immediately:

  • severe abdominal pain
  • fever
  • bloody bowel movements
  • dizziness
  • weakness

At what age should routine colonoscopy begin?

Routine colonoscopy to look for early signs of cancer should begin at age 50 for most people—earlier if there is a family history of colorectal cancer, a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease, or other risk factors. Dr. Cofrancesco or Dr. Quijano can advise you about how often to get a colonoscopy.

Points to Remember

  • Colonoscopy is a procedure used to see inside the colon and rectum.
  • All solids must be emptied from the gastrointestinal tract by following a clear liquid diet for 1 to 3 days before colonoscopy.
  • During colonoscopy, a sedative, and possibly pain medication, keep patients unconscious.
  • Dr. Cofrancesco and Dr. Quijano can remove polyps and biopsy abnormal-looking tissues during colonoscopy.
  • Driving is not recommended for the rest of the day after the procedure.

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