What is a Colonoscopy?
Colonoscopy allows the complete examination of the colon (large intestine) and the rectum, thanks to a colonoscopy. This allows the diagnosis of various pathologies and diseases of the colon.Performing a colonoscopy is the best test for the early diagnosis of digestive and kidney diseases. It is the best colon cancer prevention.
The Colonoscopy is an instrument with a flexible probe with a tiny camera that allows you to see inside. It also has a lighting system, thus allowing the entire dimension of the colon to be explored. It has a length of 122 and 183 cm and a diameter of approximately one centimetre. The small camera allows, thanks to a monitor, to see and examine the entire route through the intestine.
An endoscope is used as a generic term, this being in its exact definition, a device provided with the light and a camera to be inserted through any natural opening and allow the observation of a body organ or cavity.
Unlike sigmoidoscopy with Colonoscopy, The length and flexibility of the tube, the entire colon can be reached, not just a third of it.
Through the probe itself, it is possible to use the material to eliminate likely polyps that are found. Subsequently, the sample is taken to perform a biopsy of them.
A colonoscopy is recommended for people with a family history of colorectal cancer for its prevention or early diagnosis or other pathologies such as inflammatory bowel disease.
The test is performed by a specialist in the digestive system. The test is covered at the centre by most medical insurances.
How is Colonoscopy performed?
Colonoscopy is performed in the Endoscopy Room, an intervention room dedicated exclusively to performing Gastroscopies and Colonoscopies.
The patient has to lie down on the stretcher lying on his left side. The anesthesiologist gives him a sedative and pain reliever that keeps him pain-free during the test.
The colonoscope is inserted through the anus and gently moved, as needed, through the large intestine and even into the lower part of the small intestine, allowing the lining of the colon (large intestine) and rectum to be viewed.
To facilitate vision through the small camera, the colonoscope allows air to be insufflated and liquids or stool to be suctioned. All this allows a better view as the colonoscope is withdrawn.
Finally, the colonoscope also allows the extraction of small tissue samples (remove polyps) as well as taking pictures. If necessary, the colonoscope can also perform some laser procedures.
The usual thing is to find regular and healthy intestinal tissues.
Preparation for a Colonoscopy
Performing a Colonoscopy makes it essential that the intestines are clean and empty. If not, it makes it very difficult to identify possible problems.
In the consultation with the specialist before the test, he will indicate the steps you must follow to cleanse your intestines. Steps for bowel preparation may include:
- Stop taking some medications a few days before the test (especially anticoagulants), only those the doctor tells you.
- Drink many clear liquids for one day before the exam, such as clear coffee or tea, broth, gelatin or water, for example. Don’t drink milk.
- Iron preparations should also be stopped for a few days before the test unless your doctor tells you otherwise since iron can darken the colour of your stool and therefore make it difficult to see.
When is it advisable to do a Colonoscopy?
Some of the reasons why it is advisable to perform a colonoscopy are:
- As a screening test to rule out colon cancer. Colonoscopy is the best test for an early diagnosis of colon and rectal cancer since the other tests are only positive in more advanced stages.
- People with a family history or people over 50 years of age.
- Due to rectal bleeding or the appearance of blood in the stool.
- Due to chronic diarrhoea.
- In the case of iron deficiency anaemia when it is believed that it may be caused by colon bleeding.
- When there is excessive weight loss with no apparent explanation.
- To rule out or diagnose Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
- When there is chronic abdominal pain.
- If there are polyps detected in other medical tests.
If you feel identified in any of these cases, do not hesitate to consult with a specialist doctor in the Digestive System.
This test is performed with sedation on the patient and usually lasts between 30 and 60 minutes. In the end, the patient usually feels stomach discomfort and gas, which typically disappear after 24 hours. The patient must come accompanied to the clinic.
Is Colonoscopy painful?
Sedation allows you not to feel any discomfort, and even in some instances, you don’t even remember the test. Depending on each patient, you may feel pressure when the colonoscope is advanced and some temporary pain or cramping due to the air introduced to perform the test. This is entirely normal.
At the end of the test, it is common to have mild abdominal pain and a lot of gas. Likewise, you can feel sick to your stomach, but it disappears soon. The usual thing is that between 1 and 2 hours after the test, you can go home; although not driving due to the numbness of the Colonoscopy, you must have a companion who can accompany you back.
Once you return home after the procedure, follow the instructions given by the specialist, these may include drinking plenty of fluids and eating healthy. The next day you will be in perfect condition to perform your physical activity.
What risks does a Colonoscopy have?
It is a relatively simple and standard test that does not usually have complications beyond the gases produced after the fact and the possible discomfort and nausea. However, there is a small risk of a rupture of the colon wall or internal bleeding that requires a surgical solution.
What can be found with the realisation of the Colonoscopy?
If the results are abnormal, they may indicate, among others:
- The appearance of polyps (thanks to the colonoscope, they can be removed and biopsied)
- digestive bleeding
- Crohn’s disease or inflammatory bowel disease
- Diverticulosis is small abnormal bags, very common in people over 60 years of age, that bulge in the intestines.