A colonoscopy is an exam of the colon (large intestine or bowel) with a slim, flexible, lighted tube called a colonoscope. Your health care provider can use the colonoscope to get a clear, magnified view of the inside of your colon from the anus to the area near the appendix.
Colonoscopy is the most direct and complete way to see the entire lining of the colon. It is usually done for one of the following reasons:
• Prevention and early detection of cancer: If you are between 50 and 80 years old, your health care provider may recommend that you have a colonoscopy at least every 10 years. If you have a personal or family history that increases your risk, your provider may recommend that you have the test more often. A colonoscopy can help your provider find and remove growths (polyps) before they become cancerous. It can also allow your provider to detect cancerous growths early, when the cancer is easier to cure.
• Diagnosis of illness: If you have symptoms of illness that your health care provider has not been able to explain, you may have this procedure to try to find the cause of your symptoms. For example, you may be having unexplained abdominal pain or abnormal bowel movements. Your provider can check for inflammation of the bowel lining or infected pockets (diverticula) in the bowel wall.
Your health care provider will give you written instructions on how to clear bowel movements from the colon. Please follow these instructions completely and call your provider’s office if you have any questions.
You will need to plan on being at the Endoscopy Center about two to three hours for check-in, the exam and recovery. You should arrange for someone to accompany you to your appointment and drive you home after the exam.