At GIDOCJHB, we treat patients with a wide range of gastrointestinal conditions, and we use the latest medical advances in the industry.
We help you understand the basics of how a colonoscopy is performed, how to better prepare both the night before and on the day, and how to interpret results.
Colonoscopies can help save lives, and with colon cancer diagnosis under the age of 50 on the rise, it’s important to get your screenings done through an experienced gastroenterologist.
We understand that a colonoscopy can be uncomfortable at times (the truth is that colonoscopies are not nearly as bad as you probably think), but it can be a crucial procedure at detecting colon cancer at its early stages.
Due to the COVID 19 pandemic, we are also taking relevant measures to keep our patients, staff, and facilities safe so we can still provide you with important screening procedures.
Why Colonoscopies Are Performed
A colonoscopy is a life-saving procedure performed by a gastroenterologist to screen for colon abnormalities inside your large bowel (also known as the colon) that may or may not be cancer.
It involves inserting a thin, flexible tube that has a small video camera attached, with makes it possible for a gastroenterologist to examine the entire colon and also take biopsies (small pieces of tissue) for further examination.
Colonoscopies detect cancers while they’re still in the early treatable stages, and can also be used to check the colon after cancer treatment.
You Should have a Colonoscopy if:
- If you are 45 years of age with a family history of colon cancer. 50 years of age if you don’t have a family history
- If you have a family history such as a parent or sibling that has or had been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, it’s recommended to book a consultation with a gastroenterologist as soon as possible to determine if your colonoscopy should be scheduled sooner.
- If you are having symptoms of colorectal cancer such as rectal bleeding, dark-colored stools, diarrhea or constipation, abdominal pain and cramps, and unexpected weight loss, it’s recommended to speak with your gastroenterologist about your condition.
- If you would like to look at the general condition of your colon to see if there’s any swollen tissue, ulcers, tumors, inflammation, unexplained objects, and bleeding.
- If you’ve been diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis in the past.
- If you’ve been exposed to radiation around your abdominal or pelvic area at any point in your life, to treat prior cancer for example.
- If you’ve had surgery to remove part of your colon.
What if they Find Something?
Generally speaking, if you have been going for your recommended colonoscopy checkups and your gastroenterologist has found polyps, it will be in its early stages, which means a very high chance of effective treatment, especially in stage zero (not extended beyond the inner lining of the colon) and stage one (grown deeper into the layers of the colon wall, but have not spread beyond the wall or into the lymph nodes.)
Your Colonoscopy Schedule
It’s best to discuss your colonoscopy schedule with your gastroenterologist as specific cases will require specific care.
However, it’s recommended to get your first screening between the ages of 45-50.
Your screenings will stop once you reach the age of 75 if you are healthy, or 85 if abnormalities were previously found. It’s important to note that as you age, your risk of developing polyps and colon cancer increases.
Because colon cancer develops slowly, most people will not need to have a colonoscopy more than once every five years, but it’s still best to discuss your unique situation with your gastroenterologist.
- If your screening colonoscopy showed a healthy, normal colon, you may not need another screening for 10 years.
- If you had one or two low-risk polyps removed, you should have another colonoscopy in 5 to 10 year.
How to Prepare for a Colonoscopy
It’s recommended to clear your calendar on the day of your colonoscopy and plan for a driver to take you back home as you will feel drowsy.
Your diet will play an important role in the days leading up to your procedure, but your gastroenterologist will advise you on foods to eat and foods to avoid.
How a Colonoscopy Procedure Works
On the day of your procedure, you’ll be asked to change clothes either into a gown or something more light. and you’ll be given a sedative and/or anesthesia to make your feel more relaxed.
Once you feel a bit drowsy, you’ll be instructed to lay down sideways and bring your knees to your chest so the colonoscopy flexible tube can be easily inserted into your rectum.
A colonoscopy procedure usually takes around 30-45 minutes. Once your procedure is finished, you’ll still feel drowsy, which is why you should have someone drive you home.
It’s normal to experience small amounts of bleeding or bloating following your procedure, however, if your blood becomes heave or is accompanied by a fever, contact your gastroenterologist immediately.
What Should I Expect After a Colonoscopy?
Following your procedure, you’ll most likely stay at the hospital for about an hour for monitoring and be given instructions on how to care for yourself while at home.
You may also feel bloated and drowsy for a few hours, however, the sedatives should wear off soon thereafter.
Your recovery period is generally very fast, usually, by the next day you should feel much better and can continue your normal work routine and lifestyle activities.
Your gastroenterologist will share the results of your colonoscopy with you and discuss the next steps too.
DISCLAIMER: PLEASE READ CAREFULLY
The information on this website is to provide general guidance. In no way does any of the information provided reflect definitive medical advice and self-diagnoses should not be made based on information obtained online. It is important to consult a Gastroenterologist or medical doctor regarding ANY and ALL symptoms or signs including, but not limited to: abdominal pain, haemorrhoids or anal / rectal bleeding as it may a sign of a serious illness or condition. A thorough consultation and examination should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call a physician or call our office today and schedule a consultation.