What is Colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is a diagnostic test that consists of the integral examination of the large intestine through an endoscope. The endoscope is a tube with a diameter of 1.2 centimeters with a small chamber at its end.
Colonoscopy is the safest method to detect bowel cancer prematurely because of with optics, the doctor can scan the intestinal mucosa and assess their condition. Modern colonoscopy is able to represent all images as a video and store it.
The striking points of the intestinal mucosa, as well as the possible polyps (benign predecessors of cancer), can be removed during examination through a working channel within the tube without requiring further intervention.
Colonoscopy still has a very bad image because it is perceived as an unpleasant process that goes beyond the limits of modesty. However, colonoscopy is only painful in very few cases.
The Spanish Association against Cancer recommends a complete colonoscopy in the populations at risk. These are the following:
- People over 50 years
- People with a personal and family history of colorectal cancer and / or polyps. It is advisable to perform a colonoscopy every two years
- Persons diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease or familial colonic polyps
The relevant aspect of a colonoscopy is proper preparation of the examination. Do not eat hard digestion foods that cause gas at least 24 hours before the date of the examination.
If the examination is done in the morning (normal procedure), the evacuation should begin as of 14:00 hours the previous day. From this moment only tea, water or broth of meat can be taken; Coffee, juices or milk are not allowed.
The night before the colonoscopy, you can not have dinner and two liters of laxative solution should be taken within 90 minutes. Between one and two hours later, the intestine begins to empty.
On the morning of the colonoscopy one more liter of the laxative is ingested, if necessary, until the feces consist of a clear liquid or are light brown in color. It is necessary to completely empty the intestine otherwise only the state of the mucosa (wall of the intestine) can be partially assessed.
The bowel movement procedure is perceived in many cases as a stressful process, especially by those who are at risk patients who must undergo this test regularly.
The colonoscopy lasts between 15 and 30 minutes. In most cases, a tranquilizer is provided or if necessary also an analgesic. The doctor also administers a medication that inhibits bowel movements (peristaltic) that relaxes the bowel. The patient lies on his left side so that the doctor first brows the anus from the outside and can touch the rectum with his finger. Then carefully insert the endoscope by applying a lubricating gel.
Under visual control, the tube is sliding down the rectum and the large intestine to the lower sections of the small intestine. Both the forward and backward of the endoscope are minutely observed in the walls of the intestine to assess their condition.
If necessary, samples of tissue or polyps are removed for later analysis (biopsy) in a painless manner. Doctors sometimes can tighten the stomach to facilitate the displacement of the colonoscope.
After the examination, patient can return to eat what he wants. If a tranquilizer has been administered, the patient can not drive during that day or perform any activity that requires high concentration or attention. If there is fever, pain or bleeding especially after removal of polyps, it should be reported immediately to the doctor.
Colonoscopy is the most effective method of obtaining certainty in relation to a suspected chronic inflammatory bowel disease, intestinal polyps or malignant bowel tumors (intestinal cancer). It is also useful in determining the causes of constant diarrhea.
The colonoscopy allows the extraction of tissue samples (biopsy), during the exploration whose microscopic evaluation provides univocal conclusions. The endoscope even allows minimal surgical procedures to remove intestinal polyps.
Colonoscopy is an exploration that carries few risks. Hypersensitivity reactions can occur against the medications used, bleeding (especially in cases with a tendency for severe bleeding), circulatory problems (if there are corresponding diseases) and the instrument used can damage the intestinal wall (if the intestinal wall already presents previous damages, for example, due to chronic inflammatory bowel diseases). These complications are extremely rare and can be controlled quickly with the right measures.
Colonoscopy is not performed in cases of acute intestinal inflammation. Before undergoing a colonoscopy you should inform the doctor of the tendency to bleeding, ingestion of anticoagulant medications, heart disease or allergies that you suffer, experienced stomach or intestinal operations or pregnancy status.