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What Is a Colonoscopy?

Learn what a colonoscopy is from gastroenterologist Lisa Ganjhu, M.D. in this Howcast video about stomach problems and digestive disorders.


So, a colonoscopy is basically an examination of the colon and that's where we pass a long flexible tube called a colonoscope into the rectum and take a look inside the walls of the colon. And what we're looking for are either diverticulum, we can see hemorrhoid's, we can see colon cancer or polyps or any inflammations.

Now the colonoscope is a long flexible tube with a fiber optic light source and channels that we can pass biopsy forceps through or snares or any instrument that we may need in order to manage the lesions that we see. The test in general is actually really very safe. In order to prepare for the colonoscopy you need to drink clear liquids and a laxative in order to clean everything out. That's done the day before the test. The day of the test your doctor may give you some sedatives to make you sleepy and then they pass a small scope into the rectum and take a look and do any biopsies or remove any polyps or do any tasks that need to be done.

After the test the scope is obviously removed. You may feel gassy or a little bloated because the doctor does put some air in to insufflate the colon in order to take a look inside the wall. The risks to the procedure are small but we do need to talk to the patients about it and your doctor will talk to you about it before they have you sign consent for the tests. Those would be bleeding, making a small hole, infection, or problems with the sedation, or missed lesions.

Doctors are very careful so none of those things happen but they do need to inform you that there is a small chance of those things happening.

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