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What is a colonoscopy? A colonoscopy (also called lower endoscopy) allows a doctor to look inside the entire large intestine. The procedure enables the physician to see things such as inflamed tissue, abnormal growths, and ulcers. It is most often used to look for early signs of cancer in the colon and rectum. It is also used to look for causes of unexplained changes in bowel habits and to evaluate symptoms like abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, and weight loss.

What is the colon? The colon, or large bowel, is the lower portion of your digestive tract, or gastrointestinal tract. The colon is a hollow tube that starts at the end of the small intestine and ends at the rectum and anus. The colon is about 5 feet long, and its main function is to store unabsorbed food waste and absorb water and other body fluids before the waste is eliminated as stool.

                  Preparation You will be given instructions in advance that will explain what you need to do to prepare for your colonoscopy. Your colon must be completely empty for the colonoscopy to be thorough and safe. To prepare for the procedure you will have to follow a liquid diet for 1 to 2 days beforehand. The liquid diet should be clear and not contain food colorings, and  solid particles such vegetable fibers, meat and rice. It may include
  •  Broth or “sabaw”
  •  fruit juice
  • water
  • coffee or tea
  • milk
  • egg
In addition, you will be asked to take: Bisacodyl 2 tabs before bedtime, the night before the procedure. You will expect to defecate 2 to 3 times in the early morning. Should you fail to defecate, you will be ask to give yourself an enema (fleet enema). This is a laxative solution in a plastic bottle with a lubricated rubber tip. Insert the lubricated tip in your anus while lying on your side and squeeze the content. Within 30 minutes, your defecation would have been stimulated. Report for colonoscopy at 8:00 a.m. Be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions you have or medications you take on a regular basis such as
  • aspirin
  • arthritis medications
  • blood thinners or anti coagulants
  • diabetes medication
  • vitamins that contain iron
The medical staff will also want to know if you have heart disease, lung disease, or any medical condition that may need special attention. You must also arrange for someone to take you home afterward, because you will not be allowed to drive after being sedated.

Procedure For the colonoscopy, you will lie on your left side on the examining table. You will be given pain medication and a moderate sedative to keep you comfortable and help you relax during the exam. The doctor and a nurse will monitor your vital signs, look for any signs of discomfort, and make adjustments as needed. The doctor will then insert a long, flexible, lighted tube into your rectum and slowly guide it into your colon. The tube is called a colonoscope. The scope transmits an image of the inside of the colon onto a video screen so the doctor can carefully examine the lining of the colon. The scope bends so the doctor can move it around the curves of your colon. You may be asked to change positions at times so the doctor can more easily move the scope to better see the different parts of your colon. The scope blows air into your colon and inflates it, which helps give the doctor a better view. Most patients do not remember the procedure afterwards. The doctor can remove most abnormal growths in your colon, like a polyp, which is a growth in the lining of the bowel. Polyps are removed using tiny tools passed through the scope. Most polyps are not cancerous, but they could turn into cancer. Just looking at a polyp is not enough to tell if it is cancerous. The polyps are sent to a lab for testing. By identifying and removing polyps, a colonoscopy likely prevents most cancers from forming. #

 
 
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    Author

    MARIE BETH FLORES
    a systems analyst by profession, work as a system administrator in this hospital.

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