When Should I Get a Colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is a diagnostic tool most regularly used as a cancer screening tool. But there are other times when a colonoscopy may be medically necessary.
Why Do I Need a Colonoscopy?
For most people, the colonoscopy is a right of passage for turning 50, which is the recommended age for having an initial colonoscopy to screen for colon cancer. When caught early, colon cancer is a very treatable cancer, but it left undetected, it can spread quickly and become very difficult to treat with chemo. However, cancer screenings are not the only reason to have a colonoscopy. Other reasons include gastrointestinal difficulties, to determine the cause of chronic constipation or diarrhea, or to discover the cause of rectal bleeding.
How Is a Colonoscopy Performed?
The colonoscopy itself is a fairly simply outpatient procedure normally done under anesthetic. Your doctor will place a colonoscope (a long, flexible tube) into your anus and gently insert it into your large intestine. The scope allows the doctor to take biopsies if necessary and allows the doctor to see the walls of the intestine for evaluation.
Preparing for a Colonoscopy
The more complex portion of the colonoscopy is the preparation. Preparation for your colonoscopy is done at home and requires you to completely empty your bowels. To accomplish this, you will be required to consume a medication that causes your bowels to evacuate. During the prep period, it is important that you follow all of the instructions from your doctor and stay near a commode.
What Happens After the Colonoscopy?
Because you will be under general anesthesia for a colonoscopy, you will remain in the recovery room until you wake up. You will need someone to drive you home from the procedure. In most cases, you will be able to resume normal activity and diet the next day.
Some people have polyps removed during the colonoscopy, which may result in light rectal bleeding after the procedure. Your doctor will provide you with care and follow up instructions. Any biopsies taken will be sent to the lab and you’ll typically have results in less than a week.
While a colonoscopy can sound scary, it is a life-saving procedure. To learn more about when you need a colonoscopy, please contact Gotham Medical Associates to schedule an appointment.