What is Colonoscopy

Dr Snehal Bhange

Dr Snehal Bhange

General Surgeon, Jaslok Hospital, 10 years of experience

August 25, 2021 Lifestyle Diseases 266 Views

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What is a Colonoscopy?

Colonoscopy is an investigative procedure that is done to assess the interior of the large intestine (colon).

This procedure is usually carried out by a gastroenterologist but can also be performed by a general surgeon.  In a colonoscopy, a four-foot-long,  flexible tube is inserted into the patient’s large intestine through the anus. At the end of this tube there is a camera lens, light source, an instrument port and an irrigation port. This apparatus is called a colonoscope.  The camera and light allow the doctor to view the colon via a monitor. The instrument port allows the doctor to insert instruments through it if needed. The irrigation port is used to fill gas in the large intestine so that it can be properly viewed. Water may also be passed through it to clear any matter.   

Let us tell you in detail about Colonoscopy in this article. 

  • Why is Colonoscopy done?
  • Preparation for Colonoscopy
  • How is Colonoscopy done?
  • What care is needed post Colonoscopy ?
  • What are the Risks of Colonoscopy? 
  • What are the Results of Colonoscopy? 

Why is Colonoscopy done?

Colonoscopy is done in the following cases- 

  • To investigate any intestinal problems or symptoms like abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, constipation, diarrhea that is not relieved by general measures.
  • If a person is over the age of 50, then they are advised to get a colonoscopy once in 5-10 years as a screening measure.
  • To identify any polyps or other growths inside the colon. 
  • When diagnostic scans, like MRI or CT, show abnormalities.
  • To take biopsy samples of the colon if needed.
  • It is used therapeutically to remove polyps or abnormal growths, to dilate strictures(narrowings) in the colon, and to stop bleeds. ( Know more about- What are Abdominal lumps? )

Preparation for Colonoscopy

Depending on what your doctor suggests it takes 1-2 days to prepare for a colonoscopy-

  • The patient is told to have a light diet mostly consisting of soft or liquid foods 2 days before the procedure. Low in fiber foods like bread and white rice is advised. Liquids taken must be clear, that is without any added colours, like chicken broth, clear soups, fruit juices without pulp, tea or coffee without milk. Refrain from eating high fiber foods and bulky foods like raw fruits and vegetables, nuts and dry fruits, whole grain foods like oats and brown rice, and any dairy products.
  • Alternatively the doctor may advise a light, liquid diet from the day before the procedure and supplement this with a purgative to be taken bit by bit throughout the day.
  • On the day of the procedure only clear liquids are to be taken. No food or drink must be taken 2 hours before the procedure.
  • Any iron containing medications must be stopped 3 days prior to the procedure. This is because it makes the stools dark and sticky which poses a problem during inspection.
  • Inform your doctor if you are taking any medications. Do not stop any medications without the advice of your doctor.
  • Inform your doctor if you are pregnant, have any heart or lung diseases, about any surgical procedures in the past. 

One of the main causes of blood in stools is Piles. Patients are advised to get Piles surgery if the problem of piles becomes excessive, before which colonoscopy may be advised. There are many doctors and hospitals in India where Piles surgery is done with great success. 

How is Colonoscopy done?  

  • During a colonoscopy examination, the patient has to wear a hospital gown which is open from behind. The procedure is done either under general anesthesia (patient is put to sleep) or is given some sedatives with painkillers. 
  • The patient is kept lying down on their left side with their legs to the chest. Then the colonoscope is lubricated and slowly inserted into the anus.
  • The irrigation port of the colonoscope pumps carbon dioxide gas into the colon. The carbon dioxide gas inflates the colon to get a better view of the colon. During this process the patient may feel a strong urge to pass stool or have abdominal cramps. A small camera is placed at the end of the colonoscope which shows the inside picture of the colon.
  • The instrument port may be used to take a biopsy(tissue) sample or remove any polyps or abnormal growths.
  • This procedure usually takes only about 30-60 minutes.

After Colonoscopy  

After the colonoscopy the patient is kept in a recovery room for an hour or so for observation and till they regain consciousness and are well oriented. The patient may feel bloated in the abdomen and may experience cramps. This is usually due to the presence of gas and is relieved easily. Walking around can help. The patient may notice a small amount of blood in the first stool after the procedure, this is normal. The patient must not drive or do any activity requiring coordination as they are still recovering from the anesthesia. After discharge you can resume eating normally and start your medications on the advice of the doctor.

Get in touch with your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following-

  • Severe abdominal pain. ( Know more about- What is Appendix? )
  • Bleeding excessively or for a long period of time
  • Fever 

What are the Risks of Colonoscopy? 

There is no major risk during a colonoscopy. But in some cases, the following problem may occur 

  • Side effects of the medicines used during the test, like drowsiness and nausea. 
  • Trauma causing bleeding
  • Perforation of the colon. ( Know more about- What is Colon Infection? )
  • Fluid and electrolyte imbalance

What are the Results of Colonoscopy? 

The doctor tells the results of the colonoscopy after  receiving the reports from the pathology laboratory which may take 1-2 days.

Negative results – The results are said to be negative when:

  • The doctor does not find any significant findings and the colon appears normal. The patient is told to repeat a colonoscopy after 10 years as a routine check up.
  • If the colon appears normal, but there is history of polyps or family history of colonic cancer the patient is advised to repeat after 5 years. (Know more about- What is colon cancer?)
  • If no significant findings were seen but there was obstruction of a proper view due to presence of fecal matter then the patient is advised to repeat it after 1 year.

Positive results – The results are said to be positive when:

  • The doctor finds polyps or abnormal growths.
  • There is a very large mass that could not be removed during the procedure.
  • Findings of inflammatory conditions like Crohn’s disease or Ulcerative colitis.  (Know more about- What is Crohn’s disease?)

Any masses or polyps found are removed and sent for pathological examination. Depending on the pathological reports and other concurrent risk factors the doctor advises further observation and investigation.

What is the Cost of Colonoscopy in India?

The total cost of colonoscopy in India can range from INR 10000 to INR 15000. But the cost of colonoscopy may vary across different hospitals and also depends upon the number of stents and the type of stents being used.

If you are coming from abroad, in addition to the cost of a colonoscopy, there will be an additional cost of accommodation and food, the cost of local travel, etc. So the total cost of colonoscopy can range around INR 18000.

We hope that we could answer your questions regarding Colonoscopy through this article.

If you want more information and treatment of colonoscopy, you can contact a Gastroenterologist.

We only aim to give you information through this article. We do not recommend medication, treatment in any way. Only a doctor can give you the best advice.


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