A colonoscopy is a procedure involving a thin, flexible camera that is used to look at the lining of the large intestine, also called the colon. This procedure is often performed to check for polyps or for cancer of the colon or rectum. It can also be used in the evaluation and work up of other symptoms and conditions (see below). During the procedure, your gastroenterologist has the ability to take biopsies, remove polyps and sample fluids, among other commonly performed therapies.
Your doctor will determine whether or not a colonoscopy may be appropriate based on your individual needs. Colonoscopies are often performed as a method of colon cancer screening. Other common indications for colonoscopies include:
• Blood in stools
• Changes in bowel habits
• Low blood counts
• Unexplained abdominal or rectal pain
• History of colon polyps or colon cancer
• Chronic diarrhea
A screening colonoscopy is performed to detect early colon cancer or colon polyps before the development of symptoms. Through early detection, cancers are often small and can be cured with surgical and medical treatment. For the average individual, screening colonoscopies are generally started at the age of 45 to 50. Certain high-risk groups should begin their screening at an earlier age, which can be determined and individualized after consulting with your doctor. Colonoscopies are then repeated at set intervals depending on the findings during the initial colonoscopy.
Preparing for a colonoscopy involves certain diet restrictions and the use of laxatives the day prior to the examination. Your doctor will provide you with all instructions upon booking your procedure. The day prior to the colonoscopy involves following a clear liquid diet for the majority of the day. Furthermore, you will be prescribed a special laxative drink which will clean out the entire colon so that the following day your doctor can see everything clearly. For more information, please see our Procedure Instructions section.
Prior to the examination starting, you will receive sedation from an anesthesiologist so that you are relaxed and comfortable for the procedure. Once asleep, your doctor passes a thin tube with a camera and light on its end through the anus and up throughout the entire colon. During the procedure, your doctor visualizes the lining of the large intestine. Your doctor has the ability to take biopsies if necessary and remove any growths (polyps) which may be precancerous.
To determine if a colonoscopy may be appropriate for you, please contact us to schedule a consultation with a member of our team.
The information provided above is meant to be used as an informative guide for patients. For precise and individualized recommendations, please consult with one of our board certified gastroenterologists to discuss your symptoms.
For additional information or to book an appointment at the Gastroenterology Center of New York, please feel free to reach out to our dedicated team by calling us at 718-210-2960. You can also schedule online or reach out to us via the Contact Us form.