Once you are about 50 years old, your doctor is going to suggest you have a colonoscopy. This is a procedure in which a tiny camera on the end of a flexible tube is used to view inside your colon and rectum. The doctor will be able to see any polyps or growths and can cut out a small piece to test for cancer. It is a very important procedure and has saved many lives. Here are a few things you should know about colonoscopies to help calm your nerves and help you understand what is going to happen.
You need to get your body ready for a colonoscopy. This means you are going to need to have an empty bowel. You will be restricted to clear liquids only for 24 hours before having the procedure. In addition, for 4 or 5 days beforehand you should avoid eating nuts, popcorn, tough meats, fruit with edible peels or seeds, whole grains, corn, cabbage, or broccoli.
In addition to what you eat, you are going to need to give yourself a few enemas or take a strong laxative the day before the colonoscopy. You need to have everything cleaned out of your lower bowel and rectum. This is the most unpleasant part of the whole procedure.
During the Colonoscopy
The doctor will give you either a sedative to put you to sleep or a twilight drug that will make you drowsy so you will not feel anything but will be awake. In both cases, the drug given will often have an amnesia effect, so you will not remember what happened. The doctor will insert the scope and maneuver it through your colon, taking pictures and video of everything. If necessary, they will push air into the colon, inflating it to get a better view. They will also take small pieces of any growths or remove them entirely.
Once you wake up, you will be able to leave the office with someone else driving you home. There may be a small bit of bleeding for the rest of the day, a bit of pain, and you may pass gas. You will be allowed to eat normally again.
Having a colonoscopy sounds scarier than it is. It is something you should have done at age 50 and any time the doctor recommends it. This is the best way to find colon and rectal cancer early enough to treat it and have a good chance of survival. To learn more, contact a medical facility like New York Gastroenterology & Endoscopy.