What is Colonoscopy? | Medical tests

Colonoscopy is a medical test used to diagnose and treat diseases of the colon (large intestine).


Colonoscopy is a medical test used to diagnose and treat diseases of the colon (large intestine). This is done through the colonoscope, which is a device that consists of a hose of about one centimeter in diameter and between 122 and 183 cm long. The colonoscope is inserted through the anal opening and can be forward through the entire colon. Lets you view the inside of the bowel, because it has a video camera on its end whose image is seen through a monitor. In addition, the colonoscope tube has several channels inside where you can enter various instruments, and allow diagnostic testing such as the taking of biopsies, or even perform treatments such as removal of intestinal polyps or tumors.
To perform a colonoscopy, it is necessary that the intestine is well clean of fecal remains. This requires preparation of the colon by means of some laxatives that are taken orally or enemas. These substances are given during the day or two days prior to the test and produce abundant diarrhoea, what gets the colon cleanse.

Reasons to perform a colonoscopy

The most common reasons that the realization of a colonoscopy may be requested are as follows:
  • As colon cancer screening test.
  • Especially in people with a family history of colon cancer or in over 50 years.
  • As a study of episodes of bleeding by the rectum (rectal bleeding) or after the appearance of blood in the stool.
  • To study chronic diarrhea.
  • In cases of anemia iron deficiency (due to lack of iron) when it is suspected to be due to a chronic bleeding from the colon.
  • In cases of sudden and unexplained weight loss that may cause to suspect a colon cancer.
  • To study in more detail some alteration that has appeared in another test that examines the colon called barium enema.
  • To diagnose and monitor an IBD like Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis.
  • In the study of chronic abdominal pain.
Sometimes, it is not necessary to explore all of the colon but only its final part. So the colonoscope is inserted by year but moves only by their final parts, i.e. by the rectum, the sigma and the descending colon. This test is called rectosigmoidoscopia. If some pathological finding is the doctor usually will advance the colonoscope until the end performing full colonoscopy.

Preparation for a colonoscopy

These are the issues that you must consider in preparation for a colonoscopy before you undergo this test:
Duration: the test is performed in about 30-45 minutes although it may take longer depending on the findings, which are or if some therapeutic procedure is carried out or take biopsies.
Entry: the test is done on an outpatient basis.
Is necessary to be accompanied?: is usually administer a sedative so the patient stays quiet during the test, so it is recommended that someone accompany you to take you home then.
Drugs: for testing will need to clean the colon during 1-2 days prior to the procedure. They will give you instructions to do so through laxatives for Administration via orally or by enema. Diet to be followed during this period depends on the type of laxative that would provide. Generally we recommend a low residue diet, why you should not eat vegetables, potatoes, or fruits from 48 hours prior to testing. The night before, you can only take liquids. These instructions can be changed, as he is sometimes recommended to follow a liquid diet 24 hours before the test. In any case, you will be given a sheet of instructions that must be followed strictly.
Food: in general it is possible that you can have breakfast sugary coffee or tea, but you should follow your doctor's instructions in this regard.
Clothing: you can wear any clothes you want to but it should be easy to remove, as they will remove you most of the clothes and will facilitate you a hospital gown.
Documents: should be informed consent, which is a role where they explain you what is the test and its potential risks. You should read it carefully and take it signed. You must take the wheel of the test request.
Contraindications: You should not do a colonoscopy in the following cases:
  • Diseases that may worsen if the test is used as in intestinal perforation, infections of the colon as acute diverticulitis, in cases of peritonitis, or after an operation on the recent colon.
  • Pathologies in which is not useful as in upper gastrointestinal bleeding (eg: haemorrhage gastric or duodenal) or irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Serious or "unstable" patients with significant hypotension, severe arrhythmia, etc.
  • Pregnancy, especially in the second and third quarters.
  • Intolerance or allergy to percutaneous solutions given for cleaning the intestine.
  • Very serious coagulation disorders.
Pregnancy and lactation: in general the test should be avoided during pregnancy although occasionally it can be if it is considered that the benefits outweigh the risks. In such a case we must try to do it without sedation or with the minimum possible sedation. Breastfeeding in general is not a contraindication the test. Solutions to clean the bowel percutaneous tend to be compatible with breastfeeding, although some could give diarrhea in breastfed infants. Sedation is usually not contraindicate breastfeeding unless there is risk of infant respiratory depression. Always should inform the physician of the possibility of pregnancy or if it is breastfeeding if you can postpone the test or replaced by another more secure.

Other considerations prior to colonoscopy

You should tell the doctor if you have allergies to medications, particularly to anaesthetics.
If you are taking iron supplements or aspirin may tell you to stop taking them the 7-14 days prior to the test. This is due to that aspirin faciliaria bleeding in case that take a biopsy or remove a polyp, and the iron is needed is stuck on the wall of the intestine and hinders their exploration. The doctor will instruct you when to resume this medication.
If you are taking anticoagulants, it is very important to warn the doctor, then it will be necessary to temporarily suspend them. The doctor will give you instructions in this sense depending on the anticoagulant that take.
You should also be alert if you've had a test with contrast of the colon in the four previous days as a barium enema. Barium used as contrast can remain in the intestine and make it difficult to scan.

How a colonoscopy

The test is often make a doctor specializing in digestive tract with a wizard that can be nurses. Initially take an IV in your arm. There passes a drug that will make you to be relaxed and drowsy during the test. It is possible to then not remember much about the procedure.
They will tell you to undress and put on a hospital gown. They defeated him on a stretcher on the left side and with knees bent toward chest. Initially the doctor will make you a rectal carefully exploring anal hole with a finger and some substance lubricant and anesthetic above the glove. Then proceed to introduce the scope previously lubricated by the anal opening and progress it slowly by the colon. In an attached screen the doctor can see the entire surface of the colon clear.
One can notice some abdominal cramps or the need to defecate or expel gases. Do not feel uncomfortable for this reason, because through the colonoscope is inserted air to defuse the colon and facilitate exploration. The expulsion of gases is therefore completely normal. Simply breathe deeply and slowly to relax the abdominal muscles. During the test you may be asked to change position to facilitate the movement of the colonoscope, and might be given some intravenous medications to relax the bowel.
The doctor has tools such as microtweezers, capsula, etc., that you can get the channels that has the scope and which allow you to perform some diagnostic or therapeutic procedures. For example, can suck secretions, take a biopsy, removing a polyp coagulate bleeding, remove a body odd, etc.
After all, the scope be taken off carefully with what it is expected to leave enough gas in the intestine, which will relieve him if I noticed any abdominal discomfort. It will finally proceed to clean the anal area with paper and they will leave you 1-2 hours under observation in any enclosed room until it recovers the sedative effect. It is recommended that you do not drive or operate dangerous machinery during the 12 hours following the test. Your doctor will instruct you when you can eat normally and restart normal activities. This depends on the procedure that have yet done you and medication which provided him. When you are allowed to, drink plenty of fluids to recover losses of liquid that it may have suffered with diarrhea caused to prepare for the test.

Complications of a colonoscopy

Colonoscopy is a very safe test. It is also rare to have side effects from medications that can be given as sedatives. The most annoying thing of the procedure probably preparing the colon laxatives, since it causes a watery diarrhea which can be annoying.
During the test you can feel embarrassed by the procedure. There is no reason to do so. You may notice abdominal discomfort, but they tend to be small because they will be given sedatives and analgesics. If you feel pain, you can tell the doctor during the test.
After the procedure you will feel drowsy for a few hours and is likely to not remember much of what happened. You may also notice abdominal bloating and gas, which will go out little by little. If you've had a biopsy or have had your a polyp removed you can see traces of blood in the stool for a few days. It is very rare that there is a serious complication for a colonoscopy.
Sometimes the colonoscope can damage the surface of the mucosa and cause bleeding. In rare cases the procedure may cause cardiac arrhythmias. Some cases of perforation of the intestine with the colonoscope, have been which is a completely exceptional circumstance. If after the test Note intense bleeding, severe abdominal pain, fever, intense dizziness, vomiting, or note the swollen and hard belly, you should immediately contact your doctor.

The colonoscopy results

During the test is the surface of the intestine with what your doctor can diagnose directly many pathologies. It is possible that later you any results the day of the test. The specialist will make a written report that will give you a few days of the test, possibly along with some photos of possible pathological as ulcers or polyps findings. Where biopsies are taken, the samples will be studied under a microscope by a pathologist and a report will be made separately with this result. You can also that you have caught samples for microbiological study of possible intestinal infections. This will result in a third report by a specialist in microbiology. All these results may take several weeks to be available.
The result report will include data on the quality of the preparation of the intestine, where has been reached with the colonoscope, the medication that has been given him and possible eventualities that have occurred during the test. Describe the appearance of the bowel and possible pathologies detected as polyps, diverticula, tumors, ulcers, bleeding, inflammation, hemorrhoids, etc. Specify possible diagnostic or therapeutic procedures undertaken as the outlet of biopsy or removal of polyps, and to which lab extracted samples have been sent. The report will be completed in a few weeks with the results of these samples.
It is advisable to go to pick up the result and not assume everything is normal because the results you are not delivered in a few weeks. The doctor has asked the test will give you the results and will instruct you if it is necessary to other complementary examinations or to follow any treatment.
Published for educational purposes
Health and Wellness

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