Colonoscopy is a procedure in which a doctor uses a colonoscope or scope, to look inside the patient’s rectum and colon. Colonoscopy can reveal irritated and swollen tissue, ulcers, polyps, and cancer.
How is virtual colonoscopy different from colonoscopy?
Virtual colonoscopy and colonoscopy are different in several ways:
- Virtual colonoscopy is an x-ray test which takes very less time, and the patient doesn’t need anesthesia.
- Doing virtual colonoscopy, the doctor doesn’t view the entire length of the patient’s colon.
- Virtual colonoscopy may not find certain polyps as easily as a colonoscopy can.
- Doctors cannot remove polyps or treat specific other problems during a virtual colonoscopy.
- The patient’s health insurance coverage may be different for the two procedures.
Why do doctors use colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy can help a doctor find the cause of symptoms, such as
- bleeding from the patient’s anus
- changes in the patient’s bowel activity, such as diarrhoea
- pain in the patient’s abdomen
- unexplained weight loss
Doctors also use colonoscopy as a screening tool for colon polyps and cancer. Screening is testing for diseases when the patient is having no symptoms. Screening may find diseases at an early stage when a doctor has a better chance of curing the disease.
How do doctors perform a colonoscopy?
A doctor performs a colonoscopy in a hospital or an outpatient center. A colonoscopy usually takes 30 to 60 minutes.
A healthcare professional will place an intravenous (IV) needle in a vein in the patient’s arm or hand to give him sedatives, anesthesia, or pain medicine, so the patient won’t be aware or feel pain during the procedure. The healthcare staff will check the patient’s vital signs and keep him as comfortable as possible.
For Colonoscopy, the patient is made to lie on a table while the doctor inserts a colonoscope through the patient’s anus and into his rectum and colon. The scope inflates the patient’s large intestine with air for a better view. The camera sends a video image to a monitor, allowing the doctor to examine the patient’s large intestine.
The doctor may move the patient several times on the table to adjust the scope for better viewing. Once the scope reaches the opening to the patient’s small intestine, the doctor slowly removes the scope and examines the lining of the patient’s large intestine again.
During the procedure, the doctor may remove polyps and will send them to a lab for testing. The patient will not feel the polyp removal. Colon polyps are most common in adults and are harmless in most cases. However, most of the colon cancer begins as a polyp, so removing polyps early helps to prevent cancer.
What are the risks of colonoscopy?
The risks of colonoscopy include:
- perforation of the colon
- a reaction to the sedative, including breathing or heart problems
- severe pain in the patient's abdomen
- death, although this risk is rare
A study of screening colonoscopies found roughly 4 to 8 serious complications for every 10,000 procedures.
The most common complications from colonoscopy are bleeding and perforation. Most instances of bleeding occur in patients who have their polyps removed. The doctor can treat bleeding that happens during the colonoscopy right away.
The patient should have delayed bleeding up to 2 weeks after the procedure. The physician can easily cure and treat delayed bleeding with a repeat colonoscopy. The physician may need to treat perforation with surgery.
Which are the different tests that have to be performed before Colonoscopy?
Some of the different tests that have to be performed before Colonoscopy:
- CT Scan