The procedure of Colonoscopy is used to visually examine the large intestine (colon) with the help of a flexible, lighted tube having a video camera, called as video endoscope or specifically referred as a colonoscope. The length of the colon is 4-5 feet and it performs various functions including the withdrawal of water from liquid that enters the colon so that a solid stool is formed. The flexibility of colonoscope makes it extraordinary equipment that can easily direct and moves around various bends in the colon. Colonoscopy not only diagnoses colonic diseases but it can also be used to take biopsies, remove polyps and control bleeding and even dilate a narrowed colon. Earlier, the instrument used for Colonoscopy is fiber-optic having a flexible bundle of the glass fibers that are now replaced by video endoscopes having optically sensitive tiny computer chip attached at the end. The electronic signals are transmitted from the video endoscope to a computer which displays different images on a large video screen.
SOME IMPORTANT REASONS TO PERFORM COLONOSCOPY ARE:
Colon cancer – it is a serious disease but can be treated and cured
Polyps – they are small clusters of cells that can develop into colon cancer
Diverticulosis/Diverticulitis – a condition involving development of infected pockets along the lining of large intestine
Ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease – a condition in which chronic inflammation occurs in large intestine or colon
Abdominal discomfort or pain that is mostly related to the condition of Anemia or weight loss
Constipation or chronic diarrhea or any change in the bowel habits
Bleeding lesions – the different points in the lining of colon may bleed
Abnormal Barium x-ray exam
The most important point to consider in Colonoscopy prep is the cleanliness of colon and it must be free of stool. The reason is that if the colon is clean then the exam is safely performed with more accuracy and in quick time. For this, the doctor gives instructions to the patient, such as the patient needs to drink a solution that helps in cleaning the colon or take laxatives or enemas. Secondly, the patient can drink clear liquids but should not eat foods for one day before the exam. If the patient is taking certain medications then the doctor advises him/her about the appropriate use of medications. It is essential to strictly follow the instructions of the doctor in order to get complete benefits of Colonoscopy.
PROCEDURE OF COLONOSCOPY
It is usually an outpatient procedure which means a patient doesn’t have to stay in the hospital. The first step during the procedure of Colonoscopy is that the doctor gives intravenous anesthesia to the patient that contains a medication such as Diprivan or Propofol making the patient unconscious. The colonoscope is a long, thin, flexible tube having a light and video camera, used to perform the procedure. When the patient is sedated, the doctor inserts colonoscope through the anus and then gently moves it along the different bends of the colon. The video camera sends images to the monitor where the doctor examines the colon. If polyp is detected then the physician lassoed it by using a thin wire and removes it with electric heat causing no pain. A biopsy can also be performed during the procedure that involves taking a small tissue sample of the colon for examination. After the exam, the patient is taken to the recovery room to monitor any effects until he/she fully awake. The patient may experience mild abdominal pressure or cramping but it is normal and can subside with few hours. The procedure of Colonoscopy usually takes 15-30 minutes.
The doctor explains results and findings of the exam to the patient and his/her family members. If the patient still feels the effects of sedative then the doctor recommends another date after some days for an appointment. The results of the polyp removal and biopsy will be given to the patient after 3-7 days of the procedure.
BENEFITS OF COLONOSCOPY
There are many benefits of the Colonoscopy procedure. The most important benefit is that the procedure helps in the timely diagnosis and proper treatment of any disease in the colon. The exam also allows the removal of polyp and eliminates the need for any major surgery or operation. The bleeding can also be treated if any bleeding site is identified during the procedure. Various other treatments can also be given through colonoscope, if necessary.
ALTERNATIVE TESTS TO COLONOSCOPY
Various other alternative tests can also be performed to Colonoscopy which mainly includes barium enema x-ray exam that involves outlining the colon to allow the diagnosis. Blood tests and stool tests are also conducted but they only provide indirect information about the condition of the colon. All of these alternative exams don’t allow the physician to directly view the colon or remove a polyp or perform a biopsy.
COLONOSCOPY RISKS AND SIDE EFFECTS
After the exam, the patient usually feels some bloating and distension but it only lasts for an hour. Serious side effects and risks of the procedure are very rare. In very rare cases, excessive bleeding can occur as a result of the removal of a large polyp or a tear can occur in the colon lining. If these complications occur, they require hospitalization and very rarely, a surgery for correction. It may happen that an error may occur or it is over-sighted during diagnosis, but it is very uncommon.
Following the exam, the patient should not operate any machinery or drive due to effects of mild sedation. That’s why the patient should bring someone to drive to home.
The procedure of Colonoscopy is used to determine the presence of a serious medical condition or disease by using an instrument, called colonoscope and the results of Colonoscopy are used to devise a specific treatment plan. The risks and serious complications from the procedure are very rare.
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