What is a Colonoscopy?
Colonoscopies are used to find ulcers, tumors, colon polyps, and areas
of inflammation or bleeding. During the exam, tissue samples are collected
and may be biopsied. Abnormal growths are also removed. A colonoscopy
is often used as a screening test for cancer and precancerous cells in
the colon or rectum. A colonoscopy is performed by a gastroenterologist,
a doctor who specializes in stomach and intestinal problems.
A colonoscopy allows your doctor to inspect the inner lining of your large
intestines. A thin, flexible tube is inserted to look at the colon after
you're sedated. The procedure usually takes about 30 minutes.
When to Have a Colonoscopy
A routine colonoscopy to look for early signs of cancer should begin at
age 50 for most people—earlier if there is a family history of colorectal
cancer, a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease, or other risk
factors. Your doctor can advise you about when and how often to get a
How to Prepare for a Colonoscopy
The doctor will provide specific instructions about how to prepare for
your colonoscopy. The process is called a bowel prep. Typically, all solids
must be emptied from the gastrointestinal tract by following a clear liquid
diet for 1 to 3 days before the procedure. A clear liquid diet may include:
- fat-free bouillon or broth
- strained fruit juice
- plain coffee
- plain tea
- sports drinks, such as Gatorade
You may also be given a special liquid to drink by your doctor before arriving
at the colonoscopy. This will help prepare the intestines for a successful
exam and instructions should be followed carefully.
We recommend having someone drive you after the procedure as driving yourself
is not recommended since you will have been given anesthesia.