It may be time for a Colonoscopy – It could save your life. If you are getting older or having certain symptoms, you may need to consider a camera form of evaluation.

A colonoscopy is an important procedure and one that every person should have done.  Usually it isn’t needed until the age of fifty. But this isn’t always the case.

A colonoscopy is a part of the endoscopic group of examination tools. This particular aspect is when a camera that is flexible passes through the anus into the small and large bowels.

The camera is an amazing technique because it is capable of many things. Initially it is done as a evaluation process. This could be a preventative measure to ensure that you don’t have something serious like cancer or something. But in some cases, biopsies and removal of tissue is necessary. The colonoscopy allows for this as well.

A Flex sigmoidoscopy is similar to a colonoscopy but it doesn’t go as far into the colon and it doesn’t allow a biopsy or tissue sample to be extracted.

The Prep

It is essential for a successful procedure to ensure that the preparation is as close to perfect as possible. The colon must be free of food, solid waste, or other items.  Typically the patient is required to fast before the procedure. This is done for an entire day.

In some cases, clear fluids are approved. Those would consist of lemonade,  apple juice, chicken or beef broth, sports drinks and water.   Keeping hydrated is helpful for the procedure.

Milk, dark soda, orange juice, grape juice, prune juice, and similar types of liquids should be avoided.  Coffee is discouraged as is tea, but in some cases can be allowed.

A laxative is given.  Usually this is mixed with water and consumed relatively quickly. In some cases a combination of pills and fluid is given. Often the procedure is the worst part of the entire process. You should plan on not being far from a toilet.

Medication to make you Sleepy

The day of the procedure, for a colonoscopy, you may be required to receive sedation. This will ensure that you don’t remember the procedure and you aren’t usually awake for the procedure. Pain isn’t always a concern, but excess movement and being uncomfortable is always an issues. Pain does occasionally occur.  Some patients choose to be awake for the entire procedure and most of them have done really well.

Risks with a Colonoscopy

There are relatively few risks. If a biopsy is performed, some bleeding may occur.  The worse problem is usually gas. Since oxygen is pushed into the bowel, to ensure the camera moves easily, gas can be present after the procedure is done.

There is a small risk or complication of tearing the bowel.  This almost never happens but it is a risk. This tear is also called a gastrointestinal perforation.  Surgery is usually the only form of treatment for this occurrence.  It happens in less than 0.2% of all procedures.

Why do you need a Colonoscopy?

The main reason the a colonoscopy is performed is to prevent colon cancer.  This cancer can be seen in both men and women. The typical age that a screening colonoscopy is performed is the age of fifty.  There can be symptoms of this cancer including: abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, fatigue, and others. Therefore if excess rectal bleeding occurs before the age of 50, then a colonoscopy might be suggested.

Other reasons of a colonscopy are:

1.)     Inflammatory bowel disease concerns  (Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease)
2.)    Internal hemorrhoids – bleeding is still the concern here
3.)    Diverticulosis – pockets in the intestines where infection can occur.
4.)    Inflammatory bowel disease
5.)    Unresolved abdominal pain
6.)    History of excess polyps
7.)    Other

When most people think about a colonoscopy, it isn’t a highlight or even something that they’ve placed on their bucket list. But it is as important as many things in life. It may not sound fun or exciting, but you will regret if you don’t get one.  Don’t wait too long, March is the month to remember colon cancer and to be reminded of the importance of a colonoscopy.

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