Colonoscopy is used for checking the inside of the colon and rectum to detect any inflamed tissue, ulcers and abdominal growth. The reason a colonoscopy is done is to check for early signs of colorectal cancer. It also helps find out the reason or unexplained changes in bowel movements, any abdominal pain you may have and the cause for anal bleeding and weight loss.
Preparation for colonoscopy
Your doctor will give you written instructions for preparing for colonoscopy, which is called bowel prep. Basically, the gastrointestinal tract should be emptied of solids, after which a clear liquid diet is followed for 1-3 days before the colonoscopy.
Your liquid diet should not include drink beverages with red or purple dye. However acceptable liquids are strained fruit juice, water, plain coffee or tea, gelatin, sports drinks and fat free broth or bouillon.
Your doctor may prescribe an enema or laxative the night before the colonoscopy to loosen stools and increase bowel movements. While laxatives are swallowed in pill form or dissolved in water in powder form, enema is done by flushing water or mild soap solution into the anus using a special wash bottle.
Make sure you inform your doctor of any medical condition you have, and of any medications, vitamins or supplements you take regularly like aspirin, blood thinners, diabetes and arthritis medications and iron vitamins.
However it is not permitted to drive for a day after the colonoscopy to give the sedative time to wear off. So make sure you make arrangements to have someone take you home after the colonoscopy.
When to have a colonoscopy
While your doctor may advise a colonoscopy, if required, it is better to start having a routine colonoscopy to check for early signs of cancer at the age of 50. However if you have a family history of colorectal cancer, if you have a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease and if there are any other risk factors, your doctor will advise a colonoscopy at an earlier age.
If required, your doctor will give you a sedative or pain medication to keep you relaxed during the colonoscopy. Your doctor will also remove any polyps, and have any abnormal looking tissue they find during the colonoscopy biopsied.
At Colorectal Surgical Associates we specialize in minimally invasive and laparoscopic techniques to diagnose and treat the many ailments we encounter.