A colonoscopy is a useful investigative procedure. It can help diagnose a range of conditions that affect your colon, intestines, and bowels.
If your doctor has recommended a colonoscopy, and you haven't had this procedure before, then you won't know what to expect. Read on to learn how a colonoscopy works, how to prepare for the procedure, and how you will feel during the test.
How Does a Colonoscopy Work?
A colonoscopy gives your medical team an inside view of your bowels. At the start of the procedure, your doctor inserts a colonoscope into your rectum. They then guide the instrument through your colon until it reaches your large intestine. It releases air as it passes through your system to expand your colon to make it easier for your doctor to see.
The colonoscope transmits images as it passes along your system. Your doctor can examine these images to get a clear view of your colon. At the end of the procedure, your doctor will gently remove the colonoscope.
All being well, your colon will look healthy and problem-free. However if one of the images shows a problem, such as a growth or a polyp, then your doctor might take the opportunity to do further tests. For example, they might use the colonoscope to biopsy a growth or remove a polyp for testing later.
How Do You Prepare For a Colonoscopy?
You will be given a list of instructions on how to prepare for your colonoscopy. Your bowels need to be clear and unobstructed for the procedure to work.
So, you might be asked to modify your diet for a few days before your procedure date. Typically, you have to eat plain or liquid foods that are easily digested. You also might have to take laxatives before the day to empty your bowels.
How Will the Colonoscopy Feel?
People do sometimes worry that a colonoscopy will hurt. However, you shouldn't have anything more than a bit of discomfort and some minor cramping during the procedure.
Your doctor will usually give you some kind of mild sedation on the day. This ensures that you can stay in a relaxed position during the procedure. It will also help you manage any discomfort you do feel.
While you can feel the colonoscope go into your rectum, you shouldn't have any pain. The air from the colonoscope might make you feel a little bloated; however, this should pass when the instrument comes out.
To find out more about your colonoscopy procedure and how to prepare for it, talk to your doctor.