A colonoscopy allows your doctor to see the inside of your colon and check it for injuries, precancerous lumps called polyps, and other abnormalities. Colonoscopies are most often done as part of a screening for colon cancer, which can develop rapidly before showing any symptoms and become life-threatening in its later stages. At his practice in Orange County, California, serving Santa Ana, Irvine, and Newport Beach, Hardeep M. Singh, MD, can schedule you for a colonoscopy promptly and give you the peace of mind that comes with regular screenings. Call the office today or make an appointment online.
A colonoscopy is a common procedure to look for abnormalities in the colon, especially small precancerous growths called polyps.
During a colonoscopy, Dr. Singh inserts a long, flexible tube called a colonoscope into the colon through your rectum. A tiny camera on the end of the colonoscope allows him to visually examine the inside of the colon for any abnormalities, providing a far better picture of the health of your colon than almost any other available procedure.
Your doctor will recommend a colonoscopy or refer you directly to Dr. Singh if you are presenting symptoms like abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, or serious and long-lasting constipation or diarrhea. These symptoms can all indicate disorders that can be diagnosed effectively with a colonoscopy.
Most people get a colonoscopy as part of an annual colon cancer screening. Colon cancer can become quite advanced before you ever experience symptoms, so it’s recommended that you’re screened for it regularly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that you get an annual screening once you reach the age of 50, though people with certain risk factors will need them more often. In addition to age, risk factors include:
These screenings might not always involve a colonoscopy, but will include a number of other tests, including stool tests, to check for the presence of colon cancer and other diseases.
On the day before your procedure, you’ll refrain from eating and drinking anything but clear liquids before you come in for your appointment in order to ensure the colon is as clear as possible. Especially avoid any red liquids, as these could be mistaken for blood in the colon. You could also be asked to take a laxative in the day leading up to your appointment.
During your colonoscopy, you’ll wear a surgical gown and lay on your side on an examination table. To minimize discomfort, you’ll be given a mild oral sedative, but if there’s reason to believe you’ll be especially uncomfortable, it’s possible to get further intravenous pain medication.
Dr. Singh will insert the colonoscope into your rectum and use a visual monitor to guide it as he looks for polyps. Sometimes, to make the probe move effectively, the colonoscope may release a small amount of air to create space. When this happens, or when the probe moves, it can cause slight cramping or the sensation that you need to pass gas or move your bowels. This is normal and not cause for concern. Typically, a colonoscopy takes anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour.
If you need to diagnose a gastrointestinal disorder or if it’s time for your annual colon cancer screening, call the office of Dr. Singh today or make an appointment online.
Even though a colonoscopy is relatively painless, you’ll receive an intravenous sedative prior to the exam that will make you feel drowsy and help you relax. Throughout the exam, your heart rate and blood pressure will be carefully monitored. You’ll be asked to lie on your left side when the colonoscope (a flexible camera) is inserted into your rectum and advanced through your entire colon. At this point, the colonoscope is gently withdrawn and a detailed examination begins. If Dr. Singh has difficulty seeing some parts of your colon, he may inflate your colon with air or wash the lining with water to improve the quality of images of your colon’s lining. Should Dr. Singh detect a polyp or abnormal growth during the examination, he may remove it or take a biopsy for laboratory testing. The usual duration of a colonoscopy is 15-30 minutes.
Even though the sedative will wear off quickly, you will need a ride home. You cannot drive after the colonoscopy. Due to the placement of the IV, the sedation, and the need to monitor you after the procedure, you will be at the surgery center for approximately 3 hours. A friend or relative can stay with you or come back to pick you up. You shouldn’t make any important decisions for the rest of the day either. It’s best to just go home and rest.
You may experience some temporary bloating, which can be relieved by walking and should resolve as you pass gas over several hours. This is normal and not a cause for alarm. You may also notice a small amount of blood in your stool following your colonoscopy. It is normal. Should you, however, continue to bleed or develop persistent pain or fever, contact Dr. Singh immediately.