Alaska Digestive Center
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What is a Colonoscopy?
What is the purpose of a Colonoscopy?

Colonoscopy is a safe and effective way to evaluate problems such as blood loss, pain, and changes in bowel habits such as chronic diarrhea or abnormalities that may have first been detected by other tests. Colonoscopy can also identify and treat active bleeding from the bowel.

Colonoscopy is also an important way to check for colon cancer and to treat colon polyps - abnormal growths on the inside lining of the intestine. Polyps vary in size and shape and, while most are not cancerous, some may turn into cancer. However, it is not possible to tell just by looking at a polyp if it is malignant or potentially malignant. This is why colonoscopy is often used to remove polyps, a technique called a polypectomy.

What equipment does the doctor use during this procedure?

A colonoscope is used to perform the procedure. The colonoscope is a small camera attached to a flexible tube. This long, flexible instrument uses fiber optics to send images of the colon to a monitor for viewing by the physician.

What can I expect during a Colonscopy?

Sedative medication will provide relaxation and produce a drowsy feeling. A rectal examination usually precedes the test to dilate the rectum and make sure there are no major obstructions. You may have the urge to defecate when the rectal exam is performed or as the colonoscope is inserted.

You may feel pressure as the scope moves inside. Brief cramping and gas pains may be felt as air is inserted or as the scope advances. The passing of gas is necessary and should be expected.

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