What is Colonoscopy?
Colonoscopy is a procedure that allows the physician to look directly at the lining of your colon and remove polyps. Colonoscopy usually requires only light sedation and the procedure usually causes little or no pain. Reasons for doing Colonoscopy include screening for colon cancer in patients without symptoms, investigation of bowel symptoms (pain, bleeding, change in bowels, weight loss, positive fecal occult blood test), anemia, follow-up of patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease, previous polyps or bowel cancer.
How is Colonoscopy done?
Colonoscopy involves inserting a flexible tube (scope) into the rectum and examining the lining of the colon. On the end of the scope is a tiny camera which projects images on monitors, enabling physicians to see the inside of the colon. As physicians steer the flexible tube through the colon,they are able to spot polyps and remove them with devices passed through the scope. Sedation is usually given to keep you comfortable.
What are the risks of Colonoscopy?
This can occur during and after the procedure. This is caused by stretching of the bowel and inflation of air during the procedure. This usually lasts only a brief time.
Perforation (puncture of the bowel):
There is a risk approximately 1 in 10,000 for colonoscopy screening but increases to 1 in 1000 if polyps are removed. If this occurs, an operation will be necessary involving a stay in hospital for several days.
Bleeding occasionally occurs (1 in 5000) if polyps are removed or if biopsies are taken. If the bleeding cannot be controlled, a blood transfusion may be necessary, and occasionally, surgery may be needed.
Cardiac arrest and death:
This is extremely rare (less than 1 in 100,000). Staff at the clinic are trained to manage this very rare problem.
Occasionally patients may have adverse reactions to the drugs administered during the procedure. To reduce this risk, you must let the doctor and nurse know of any allergies you may have to medications.