A colonoscopy is a medical test that allows your doctor to view the inside of your colon and diagnose any issues, such as colon cancer, that may be present.
Using a thin, highly flexible camera and specialized instruments, your doctor can find polyps, ulcerations, inflammation, as well as spots that may be bleeding. He or she can also take tissue samples for a biopsy, when necessary.
Only your doctor can advise you if you need a colonoscopy, however, people aged 50 years and older should have a colonoscopy every ten years even in the absence of symptoms or risk factors. However, your doctor may order one sooner, based on any symptoms you may be having, or if you have certain risk factors or previous tumors. Bottom line: colonoscopies do save lives by helping to detect cancer and remove dangerous polyps which could otherwise become cancerous.
- Does it hurt? Most people do not find a colonoscopy to be painful. A colonoscopy is performed while you are sedated. Some people do report that they have some mild discomfort, however most feel none at all. The bowel cleansing prep, which involves a clear liquid diet, enemas, and laxatives is more often than not what puts people off from a colonoscopy. That slight discomfort, however, is well worth the benefits of being examined and possibly preventing or catching cancer early enough for effective treatment.
- Is a colonoscopy accurate? Colonoscopies are considered the “gold standard” for catching cancers of the colon, when compared to other forms of testing. If you have any questions or concerns about the procedure, be sure to ask your doctor why they are advising the procedure and what benefits they hope to gain from the test.
- Is it private? Like any other medical procedure, you will be tested in private, without other patients or people around. Usually your doctor is assisted by a nurse and an anesthesiologist in his or her office, an ambulatory outpatient center, a clinic or hospital.
- Is a colonoscopy dangerous? There is always some degree with any medical procedure, however colonoscopies are done routinely and are considered safe overall.
- Will someone need to drive me home afterwards? It is the policy of most surgery centers and hospitals to require that you have someone drive you home after a procedure requiring sedation.
- Are there any side effects from having a colonoscopy? You may experience some gassiness because the procedure involves blowing in air to expand the colon to aid the doctor’s view of the lining of your colon. It may cause some cramping and mild discomfort later, however most people miss the gassiness because they are still waking from the sedation.
If you, or a loved one needs a colonoscopy, or to find out more about the procedure, please call Intercoastal Medical Group at (941) 362-8662 in Lakewood Ranch or (941) 342-8892 in Sarasota or request an appointment online with one of our highly qualified, caring gastroenterologists. Intercoastal Medical Group: dedicated to your wellbeing for life.