The colonoscopy procedure is a cancer-screening test. Cancer can be fatal. But if tests detect it early on then therapy and medicines can help you combat this disorder.
Cancers of the colon and rectum are some of the most common forms of cancer. And that is why doctors recommend colonoscopy which can predict if these cancers are beginning to set in. Keep reading to know more about why you may need it, what to expect and if there are any associated risks.
Why is colonoscopy done?
Once you reach your 50s, your chances of contracting colorectal cancer goes up significantly. That is why your doctor may suggest a colonoscopy procedure just to rule out that possibility. This test becomes imperative if you have a family history of colon or rectal cancers. In such cases, it is a preventive measure your doctor will recommend once in a few years.
Quite a few adults have bumps or polyps in the colon or rectum. They are usually benign. But some polyps called adenomas are dangerous. They may turn cancerous. And when they do, you will see symptoms such as intense abdominal pain, bleeding from the rectum, chronic constipation or diarrhoea, abdominal cramps, flatulence.
If you’ve had surgery to remove a polyp, your doctor might ask you to undergo a colonoscopy to ensure there are no more polyps left or no new ones have developed.
Are colonoscopies safe?
Colonoscopy is an innocuous procedure. There are seldom, if ever, any complications. But you should still know about the following risks:
- You might experience a little bit of bleeding from the site where the polyp was removed or a tissue sample collected
- A tear along the wall of the colon or rectum
How to prepare for a colonoscopy?
There are a few measures that you will have to adopt in the days leading up to the colonoscopy procedure. Your bowels have to be absolutely clean. Any faecal matter left behind may obstruct the doctor’s view when the procedure is being performed. That is why you will have to-
- Follow a special diet: you will have to be on a fibre-rich diet for a few days. Fibres ensure bowel movement.
- You will only be drinking fluids the day before the procedure.
- You will have to take a laxative to ensure your bowels are cleared before the doctor commences with colonoscopy.
- You might opt for an OTC enema kit.
- If you are taking medicines for diabetes, heart disorders, hypertension, lung problems or allergies, then you should inform your doctor because your dosage might have to be tweaked.
What happens during the procedure?
The doctor will administer a sedative. You may also be given pain medication to dull any discomfort you are likely to feel. You will have to lie on your side and draw your knees up to your chest. Then the doctor will push a colonoscope through your rectum and into your colon. The colonoscope is fitted with a lighted camera that allows the doctor to see the inside of your colon and a tube that the doctor uses to pump in carbon dioxide to inflate the colon. This might make you feel a little cramped and give you the urge to want to defecate.
Then minute surgical instruments too will be introduced into your colon with which the doctor will collect a tissue sample or amputate a polyp.
How long does a colonoscopy take?
Colonoscopy is a keyhole procedure, so it doesn’t take much time. The whole procedure shouldn’t take more than 60 minutes.
What to expect after a colonoscopy?
You may bleed a little during your bowel movements after the procedure. That is nothing to worry about. But if bleeding does not cease within a few days, talk to your doctor. Your doctor will also suggest medicines to help you deal with post-operative pain. You will be able to return to your usual routine in about 2 weeks.
Colonoscopy is a safe procedure that can save you from a dangerous ailment. Let your doctor talk you through it so that you can understand what it entails.