Colonoscopy

A colonoscopy is an exam of the large intestine, also known as the colon. The exam is done with a tool called a colonoscope. The colonoscope is a flexible tube with a tiny camera on the end. This tool allows the doctor to view the inside of your colon.

  • Call Your Doctor

    After arriving home, contact your doctor if any of the following occur:

    • Bleeding from your rectum—Notify your doctor if you pass a teaspoonful of blood or more.
    • Black, tarry stools
    • Severe abdominal pain
    • Hard, swollen abdomen
    • Signs of infection, including fever or chills
    • Inability to pass gas or stool
    • Coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, severe nausea or vomiting

    In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.

  • Definition

    A colonoscopy is an exam of the large intestine, also known as the colon. The exam is done with a tool called a colonoscope. The colonoscope is a flexible tube with a tiny camera on the end. This tool allows the doctor to view the inside of your colon.

    Colonoscopy
    Colonoscope
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  • What to Expect

  • Reasons for Procedure

    A colonoscopy is used to examine, diagnose, and treat problems in your colon. The procedure is most often done to:

    • Determine the cause of abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, or a change in bowel habits

    • Detect and treat
      colon cancer
      or
      colon polyps
    • Take tissue samples for testing
    • Stop intestinal bleeding

    • Monitor response to treatment if you have
      inflammatory bowel disease

  • Possible Complications

    Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have a colonoscopy, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:

    • Bleeding
    • Puncture of the bowel

    Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

    • Smoking
    • Pre-existing heart or kidney condition
    • Treatment with certain medicines, including aspirin and other drugs with blood-thinning properties

    • Prior abdominal surgery or
      radiation treatments

    • Active
      colitis
      ,
      diverticulitis
      , or other acute bowel disease

    • Previous treatment with
      radiation therapy

    Be sure to discuss these risks with your doctor before the procedure.