Overview

This procedure is used to examine the large intestine for inflammation, bleeding, ulcers, or polyps. Polyps may be classified as benign, precancerous, or cancerous. The physician uses a colonoscope - a small, lighted camera inside a soft flexible tube. The procedure usually lasts from 30 minutes to an hour.

Preparation

Pain medication and a sedative are administered to relax the patient, and the patient lies on his or her side. The colonoscope is inserted into the rectum and slowly guided into the colon.

The Examination

The physician carefully examines the lining of the colon and may ask the patient to change positions to aid the scope’s manipulation. Air may be pumped through the colonoscope to inflate the colon. Small tissue samples, biopsies, may be taken to confirm a diagnosis and any polyps found can be removed during the procedure. 

End of Procedure

The colonoscope is carefully removed from the colon. The patient is carefully observed until the sedative wears off. The patient may experience some cramping, bloating, or gas after the procedure. Full recovery usually occurs in a day and patients can return to regular activities.