A colonoscopy is a diagnostic procedure performed to examine the inside of the colon and rectum. The colonoscopy procedure can aid in determining the cause of changes in bowel activity, abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, as well as detect early signs of cancer. A colonoscopy may be recommended as an option for people who are at risk of developing cancer of the colon and rectum, known as colorectal cancer, or CRC.
Patients will be given a set of written instructions to follow. A clear liquid diet should be followed for 1 to 3 days prior to the procedure. Depending on the instructions provided, a laxative or enema may be required. Patients may need to drink a special bowel cleansing solution, the day before the procedure. Most medications can still be taken, although some such as aspirin or blood thinners may require special instructions.
Before the colonoscopy procedure, an intravenous, or IV, with a light sedative will be used to make the patient comfortable. Vital signs will be monitored throughout the procedure. The patient will lie on their left side as the colonoscope is inserted into the anus and guided to the opening of the small intestine. The colonoscope is then slowly withdrawn from the colon and the lining of the colon is examined carefully by the physician. The removal of polyps, or growths, for biopsy may also be conducted during the procedure. The colonoscopy procedure usually takes between 30-60 minutes to perform.
After the procedure, patients will be kept under observation for up to 2 hours, until the sedative used for the procedure wears off. Reflexes and judgment may be impaired and driving is not permitted for 24 hours after the procedure. Some people may experience pressure, bloating and cramping in the abdomen after the procedure, but these effects are temporary.
Complications of a colonoscopy are rare. If they do occur, complications can include fever, abdominal pain, dizziness, bleeding from a biopsy site, perforation of the bowel wall or a reaction to the medication used in the IV.
A flexible sigmoidoscopy is a diagnostic procedure performed to examine the sigmoid, the last one-third of the colon, also known as the descending colon. A flexible sigmoidoscopy procedure can aid in determining the cause of changes in bowel activity, abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, as well as detect early signs of cancer. A flexible sigmoidoscopy may be recommended as an option for people over the age of 50 who are at risk of developing colon or rectal cancer.
During a flexible sigmoidoscopy, a long, thin, flexible tube with a camera mounted on the end of the tube, called a sigmoidoscope, is inserted into the sigmoid part of the colon through the anus. Images of the rectum and sigmoid colon are displayed on a screen for the doctor to examine and detect any abnormalities. The removal of polyps, or growths, for biopsy may also be conducted during the procedure. A sigmoidoscopy usually takes 20 minutes to perform. Some people may experience pressure, bloating and cramping in the abdomen after the procedure, but these effects are temporary. If certain symptoms, such as colon polyps, are found, a more thorough examination of the colon may be required.
Anoscopy is a diagnostic procedure performed to examine the inner lining of the anus and rectum. During an anoscopy, a small, rigid tube is used to detect conditions within the anus, including anal cancer and hemorrhoids, as well as abnormal growths, such as tumors or polyps. This test is usually recommended for patients who are at risk for anal cancer and those with a family or personal history of polyps.
Preparing for an Anoscopy
Patients preparing for an anoscopy will need to empty their bladder before undergoing the procedure. A doctor may recommend a laxative or enema to help the patient clear waste matter from the system.
The Anoscopy Procedure
Anoscopy is performed in a doctorâ€™s office, with the patient usually lying down on an exam table. The anoscope tool will be lubricated and gently inserted into the anus and rectum. By shining a light into the tube, the doctor will have a clear view of any abnormalities that may be present in the lower rectum and anus. The test takes a few minutes to complete, and patients can return to their normal activities right away.
The procedure is often physically uncomfortable, but there are no serious risks with which it is associated. Doctors can discuss tests results with patients immediately after the anoscopy. If abnormal results are found, a biopsy may need to be performed.
Complications of Anoscopy
Complications of anoscopy are rare, and usually only occur in patients with certain conditions such as hemorrhoids. Patients with hemorrhoids are likely to experience bleeding and mild pain once the anoscope is removed.