A colonoscopy is a special procedure using an endoscope (a long thin and flexible tube with a tiny video camera on the end) that a doctor uses to examine your colon. The colon, also known as the large bowel, is about five feet long. It is the last part of digestive tract that starts at the end of the small intestine and ends at the rectum and anus.
Why do I need a colonoscopy?
One of the major reasons for a colonoscopy is to diagnose or rule out bowel cancer or inflammatory bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. Any of the following reasons might cause your doctor to order the procedure:
- Changes in bowel habits
- Rectal bleeding
- Chronic diarrhea
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Unexplained anemia or weight loss
- Abdominal pain
Because the test carries such low risks and high benefits, it has also become a screening procedure for anyone over 50. It is also not uncommon for a doctor to request a colonoscopy in conjunction with a gastroscopy.
Colonoscopy Wait Time in Canada
As a result of rationing of care by the Canadian public health system, you may have to wait for others ahead of you in line, particularly if your case is deemed “not urgent” or elective. Because we believe any risk of colon cancer or serious bowel disease should be responded to immediately, Timely Medical Alternatives will help you find a private clinic to expedite your diagnosis so you can get appropriate treatment as quickly as possible.
What will happen during a colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is not surgery – instead, it is a procedure. You will lie on your side on an examining table and be given pain medication and a sedative to keep you comfortable. This will be administered through an IV – a needle to your arm or back of your hand. The doctor will then insert the tube into your rectum and slowly and carefully move it into your colon. The tiny camera will then transmit pictures of your colon to a large computer screen that the doctor can view. The scope is flexible so it can move around corners and the doctor may also inflate your bowel with additional air, to improve visibility.
Sometimes during a colonoscopy the doctor will find small growths called polyps. These are not usually cancerous but over time they can become cancerous, so the doctor will remove them. He or she may also take tissue samples for testing in the lab later. These are called biopsies.
Most people do not feel any pain during the procedure although you may feel pressure and some mild cramping. A colonoscopy usually takes 30 to 60 minutes.
How do I prepare for a colonoscopy?
It’s important that the colon is free of solid matter before the procedure. For this reason you will be asked to follow a low-fibre or clear fluid diet for a few days beforehand. You will be given detailed instructions about what you are to do at the time of scheduling. On the day before the colonoscopy, you will be asked to take a laxative or, perhaps, use an enema. Again, the clinic will provide complete instructions. As well, you may be required to temporarily stop certain medications such as Aspirin or blood thinners. Be sure to inform the clinic of any medications you take regularly.