What is a colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is a procedure in which the colon is checked for any abnormalities and diseases. During this procedure, a colonoscope is used to look inside the colon. The colonoscope is a flexible, narrow tube that comprises a light and a camera. The scope is passed into the anus and gently guided up the colon. During this procedure, images transmitted from the camera to a monitor, will allow the surgeon to pick up on any potential issues. It is also possible to take small samples of suspicious tissue for laboratory analysis as well as performing minor interventions.

Why is it performed?

A colonoscopy may be performed as a routine screening investigation for disease, such as colon cancer. If you have experienced any unusual changes in your bowel habits, or are suffering from symptoms such as unexplained abdominal pain, constipation, chronic diarrhoea and bleeding, the surgeon may recommend a colonoscopy so that he can make an accurate diagnosis.

How does it work?

Prior to colonoscopy, one needs to complete a course of bowel preparation. This will clean out the colon to allow a complete and thorough colonoscopy. The procedure typically takes between forty minutes to an hour to complete. You will be given a hospital gown to wear, and given a sedative before the procedure starts.

During a colonoscopy you will be asked to lie on your side, as this makes access to the colon easier. The colonoscope is gently inserted into the anus. It is then slowly guided through the rectum and into the colon, allowing visualisation of the colonic inner lining on a monitor.

When the colonoscope is in the correct position, the colon will be inflated with gas, allowing visualisation of the inner layer of the colon. If there are any abnormalities found during the procedure, the surgeon can perform both diagnostic and therapeutic procedures during the colonoscopy.