Colonoscopy is a test that allows your doctor to look at the inner lining of your large intestine(rectum and colon). He or she uses a thin, flexible tube called a colonoscope to look at the colon. A colonoscopy helps find ulcerscolon polyps, tumors, and areas of inflammation or bleeding. During a colonoscopy, tissue samples can be collected (biopsy) and abnormal growths can be taken out. Colonoscopy can also be used as a screening test to check for cancer or precancerous growths in the colon or rectum (polyps).

The colonoscope is a thin, flexible tube that ranges from 48 in. (125 cm) to 72 in. (183 cm) long. A small video camera is attached to the colonoscope so that your doctor can take pictures or videos of the large intestine (colon). The colonoscope can be used to look at the whole colon and the lower part of the small intestine.

Why It Is Done

Colonoscopy is done to:

  • These groups recommend People at average risk of colorectal cancer should start regular screening at age 45.

  • Your doctor may recommend earlier or more frequent testing if you have a higher risk of colorectal cancer. Talk to your doctor about when you should be tested.

  • Check for the cause of blood in the stool or rectal bleeding.

  • Check for the cause of dark or black stools.

  • Check for the cause of chronic diarrhea.

  • Check for the cause of iron deficiency anemia.

  • Check for the cause of sudden, unexplained weight loss.

  • Check the colon after abnormal results from a CT scanMRI, virtual colonoscopy, stool test, or barium enema.

  • Watch or treat inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

  • Check for the cause of long-term, unexplained belly pain.

How to prepare for colonoscopy :

The night before your colonoscopy you’ll take strong laxatives to clear your digestive tract. The method recommended for most people is called split dosing. You’ll drink a half-gallon of liquid laxative in the evening. Then you’ll get up about 6 hours before your appointment to drink another half-gallon.

Once the laxative starts working, you’ll have frequent, forceful diarrhea. You may have cramps and bloating. If you have hemorrhoids, they may become irritated. You may also feel nauseated and even vomit. If so, your doctor may recommend you take a short break.

The purge process may still be happening as you head to your appointment. If you’re worried about having an accident, consider wearing adult diapers and pack extra clothes.

Your stool should look like urine or clear water if you have completed the process appropriately and it has worked effectively. 

The process isn’t easy, but remind yourself this is a smart step to protect your health. If you prepare well, your doctor will be able to see what he needs, and your colonoscopy will go faster. If your results are good, it may be 10 years before you have to go through it again.