- A colonoscopy is a surgical procedure that involves the examination of the large intestine.
- A colonoscope is a long, firm, and flexible plastic tube with a small digital camera and light attached to one end for digestive health.
- A colonoscopy can be used to check for polyps in the colon or bowel cancer, as well as to diagnose symptoms like unexplained diarrhoea, stomach pain, or blood in the stool. Polyps and early cancers can also be removed at the same time.
Author: Dr. Sarmed Sami MBChB, MRCP, PGCME, PhD
Consultant Gastroenterologist, Founder and Director of Digestive Health UK.
The colon (also known as the large intestine) is the last part of the digestive tract. It’s a 1.5-meter-long hollow tube that separates the rectum and anus. The colon’s primary purpose is to store undigested food until it is excreted in the faeces.
In terms of a person’s gastrointestinal health, the colon is a complex and critical organ. The colon contains two to three kilogrammes of bacteria that digest unabsorbed fibre and starch. They contain a variety of intestinal gases, the majority of which are reabsorbed and exhaled.
Short-chain fatty acids are produced in the colon, and some of them may be helpful in preventing diseases like colon cancer.
What are the reasons to have a colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy can be used to check for colon cancer (bowel cancer) or colon polyps, which are growths on the colon’s lining that can be cancerous or develop to be cancerous.
A colonoscopy can be performed to determine the cause of signs and symptoms such as: rectum bleeding blood in the stools pus or mucus in the stools unexplained abdominal pain changes in bowel habits such as unexplained and long-lasting diarrhoea colorectal cancer screening and surveillance
Things to consider
a list of all drugs (prescription and non-prescription), vitamins, minerals, and herbal supplements you’re taking right now a clear bowel so the doctor can inspect the lining of your colon This cleaning method varies, but you may be advised to change your diet and avoid those foods in the days leading up to the operation, and you’ll be given a ‘bowel preparation kit’ with instructions on how to use it.
The kit includes products that assist in bowel cleaning. It can also include laxative tablets and other preparations, as well as liquid preparations intended to promote bowel movements. It is important that you obey the medical staff’s orders to the letter.
Procedure of colonoscopy
An intravenous line is inserted into the back of your hand prior to the colonoscopy procedure to deliver drugs that calm and drowsy you. You’ll be given pills that include deep sedation, so you won’t remember much about the operation or experience any discomfort.
Colonoscopy is done in a separate unit dedicated to endoscopy procedures. The patient is lying on their left side, knees tucked up against their abdomen. The colonoscope is gently inserted through the anus and into the colon, with air or carbon dioxide added to aid passage.