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Gastroenterology Associates, P.C.
2222 53rd Avenue
Bettendorf, Iowa 52722

Phone: 563-383-2686
Fax: 563-884-8144
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Affiliated With Genesis Medical Center

Colonoscopy

A colonoscope is about the thickness of a finger and is a computerized video tube which has its own camera and light source. It is inserted from below into the rectum and into the large intestine (colon). This allows doctors to carefully examine the lining of your colon without surgery. Abnormalities suspected by x-ray can be confirmed and studied in detail. Abnormalities which are too small to be seen on x-ray may also be identified.

If a suspicious area or an area of inflammation is identified and requires evaluation in greater detail, a biopsy may be taken. A biopsy means sampling a small piece of tissue for further examination under microscope in the laboratory. Biopsies are taken for many reasons and do not necessarily mean that cancer is suspected.

Colonoscopy FAQs

What preparation is required for the best possible examination?

The colon must be completely empty of waste material. Detailed instructions will be given for the cleansing routine and the specifics of the diet which is allowed will be outlined. The use of aspirin products (this includes Anacin, Bufferin, most arthritis medications, etc.) and iron tablets must be discontinued for one week before the procedure. Laxative and/or enemas are also used before the procedure.

Please be sure to let your caretaker know if you are allergic to any drugs or medications and please advise them if you are taking insulin, anticoagulants (blood thinners) or if you have had any joint replacements or heart problems. Please also report any medications you are taking for long-standing medical problems.

After the procedure, arrangements should be made for transportation home. Medications given during the procedure to help you relax may interfere with your judgment and affect your reflexes needed for driving. As a result, even though you may not feel tired at the end of the procedure, you may not be allowed to drive. It is suggested that you go home and relax after the procedure and avoid making any major decisions on the day you receive this sedative medication.

If you have had barium enema x-ray studies done, please make sure these are available as they may be important.

What should I expect during the procedure?

You will check into the procedure area 30 minutes to 1 hour prior to the time scheduled for the procedure. There, a nurse will take a brief history, start an I.V. and check your vital signs. At the time of the procedure, you will be brought to the endoscopy suite where the procedure will be performed. Medication will be given into the vein to make you relaxed and sleepy. After the desired level of sedation is achieved, and while you are lying in a comfortable position, the colonoscope is inserted into the rectum and gradually advanced through the colon while the lining is thoroughly examined. The colonoscope is then slowly withdrawn while the intestine is again carefully examined. This procedure is usually well tolerated and rarely causes severe pain. Many individuals even fall asleep during the examination. There may be some discomfort during the colonoscopy which is usually described as a gas pain or cramp but this is usually mild. Patients often remember little of the procedure afterward because of the amnesic effect of the medications.

In some cases, passage of the colonoscope through the entire colon may not be achieved. A limited examination may be sufficient if the area of suspected abnormality was well visualized.

Are there any complications from colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is generally safe and associated with low risk. Complications can occur but these are rare. One possible complication is perforation, in which a tear through the wall of the bowel occurs and allows leakage of intestinal fluids. This complication usually requires surgery but may also be managed with antibiotics and intravenous fluids in selected cases.

Bleeding may occur from the site of biopsy or polyp removal. This is usually minor and stops on its own or it can be controlled by cauterization (application of electrical current) through the colonoscope. Transfusions and/or surgery are rarely required. Localized irritation of the vein may occur at the site of the IV and medication injection. A tender lump may develop which may remain for several weeks to several months but which eventually resolves. Other risks include drug reactions and complications from unrelated diseases such as heart attacks or strokes. Death is extremely rare but remains a remote possibility.

Like most tests in medicine, colonoscopy is not a perfect test. Even when done by experts, infrequently polyps and cancer may not be detected. However, colonoscopy is currently the most accurate procedure for detecting polyps and colon cancer.

What happens after the colonoscopy?

You will be kept in the observation area until most of the effects of the medication have worn off. You may feel bloated for a period of time immediately after the procedure because of air which was introduced during examination of the colon. If you are comfortable and stable after the procedure, clear liquids may be started while you are in the recovery area. If a polyp has been removed, you may be instructed on dietary limitations for a period of time before returning to your regular diet.

Why is colonoscopy necessary?

Colonoscopy is a valuable tool for the diagnosis and treatment of many diseases of the large intestine. Abnormalities suspected by x-ray can be confirmed and studied in detail. Even when x-rays are normal or negative, the cause of symptoms such as rectal bleeding or change in bowel habits may be found by colonoscopy. Colonoscopy is useful for the diagnosis and follow-up of individuals with inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease).

The greatest impact of colonoscopy is probably its contribution to the control of colon cancer by polyp removal. Before colonoscopy became readily available, major abdominal surgery was the only way to remove colon polyps to determine if they were benign or malignant. Now, most polyps can be safely removed without surgery.

Periodic colonoscopy is a valuable tool for follow-up of patients who have had previous colon polyps, previous colon cancer or strong family history of colon cancer.

Is colonoscopy safe?

Colonoscopy is a safe and extremely worthwhile procedure which is well tolerated. The decision to perform this procedure was based upon an assessment of your particular problem. If you have any questions about your need to have colonoscopy, do not hesitate to speak to your doctor. We will be happy to discuss in further detail with you the technical aspects of the procedure, the risks and complications of the procedure and the reasons for performing the procedure. In addition, questions about cost, methods of billing and insurance coverage may be resolved.

Testimonials From Some Of Our Patients

"Thank you so much for your kind treatment when I was in your clinic on Monday for an Endoscopy and colonoscopy. You all made me feel relaxed and confident about the procedures which I was quite nervous about. Everyone was so friendly and made me feel that I was given the best possible care."

"I just wanted to write and say THANK YOU for the care I received from you this past Friday during my visit to the Center for my 5-year check-up colonoscopy. I really appreciated your genuine kindness and you were both comforting and informative. Thank you most sincerely."

"Everyone was very courteous and professional. Thank you for your great care."

"The staff was so friendly, I felt right at home."