The thought of having a colonoscopy performed may tempt some individuals to postpone it as long as possible. However, this test is important in catching colorectal cancers at their early stages.

These types of cancers may take years to develop with few or no symptoms until they reach an advanced stage that is difficult to treat and often fatal.

Fortunately, colorectal cancer can be treated with great success in its earliest stages, but a colonoscopy is needed to detect its presence.

How is a colonoscopy performed?

The patient is first sedated. An endoscope, which is essentially a flexible cable with a camera attachment on the end, is inserted into the rectum and along the the inside of the colon. The view from inside the colon is presented on a monitor, where the physician searches for polyps, or small growths, on the inner lining of the colon.

If polyps are found, they are removed and a biopsy performed to detect cancerous or pre-cancerous cells, with further treatment based upon the result of the biopsy.

How does the patient prepared for a colonoscopy?

The colon must be throughly cleansed before a colonoscopy, so the initial consultation will involve instructions on how to accomplish this task, which is probably the most unpleasant part of the process.

The patient must refrain from eating any food or drinking for at least 12 hours before the colonoscopy, and take large quantities of stool softeners followed by laxatives. The laxatives must be taken with large quantities of sports drinks or other liquids that can limit the dehydration caused by the intense diarrhea that may last for several hours.

Most colonoscopies are scheduled during morning hours to modify the inconvenience and discomfort of the fasting and cleansing.

The day of the colonoscopy

Patients are required to provide a designated driver before the colonoscopy will be performed because of the drowsiness and disorientation the result from sedation. 

The patient is then taken to an examination room and is instr used to change into a surgical gown, then a quick blood pressure check is performed and the procedure explained to the patient.

The patient is then wheeled into the room where the procedure will be performed and given sedation. Upon awakening in a recovery room, the doctor will explain the results of the colonoscopy and any further actions that may be necessary.

If polyps are found, the patient may need to return for an additional colonoscopy within a short time span. However, if no problems are discovered, they are likely to ge a 10 year reprieve before their next adventure. For more information, talk to a company like Lincoln Surgical Group PC.