Colonoscopies involve guiding a small camera through the rectum, into the colon and upwards into the large intestine. This gives the doctor valuable information when it comes to polyps, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease, colitis, and other conditions that affect the efficiency of the bowel. A colonoscopy can also provide answers as to how well the small intestine is working. Foods that have trouble making it through to the large intestine may indicate that something is wrong further up into the digestive tract. While colonoscopies are often used to check for colon cancer, polyps, and other abnormalities, it is also a useful tool when evaluating chronic illnesses such as IBS and Crohn's.
Doctors recommend individuals get their first colonoscopy around the age of 50. If the test shows any abnormalities or any polyps are found, the doctor may suggest getting a colonoscopy every five years or so. A family history of polyps or other colon issues may prompt being tested every few years. If no polyps or abnormalities are found, the patient will be able to schedule their next appointment in ten years. Individuals who have digestive issues may need a colonoscopy to rule out certain conditions. Individuals who have been diagnosed with Crohn's Disease, colitis, IBS, and other digestive issues may be required to get a colonoscopy every few months to evaluate how well the prescribed treatments are working.
While the office visit may take close to an hour, the actual procedure normally lasts 20 to 30 minutes. This will depend on what type of sedation is used if any, and what the doctor is looking for. Once the patient arrives for the procedure, the nurse will take them back to a room. They will have to disrobe and wear a hospital gown. The nurse will get everything in order for the doctor to perform the procedure. If anesthesia or any type of sedation is going to be used, it will be administered at that time. The doctor will perform the procedure and remove any polyps or take biopsies if necessary. When the procedure is over, the doctor will discuss the results with the patient and they will be able to go home.