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Colonoscopy

Colonoscopy

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 colonoscopy.

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
  • water
  • plain coffee
  • plain tea
  • sports drinks, such as Gatorade
  • gelatin

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.