Unit 5, Medico Baia Formosa
A colonoscopy is a procedure whereby a camera is inserted through the anus and extended through the rectum and colon (large bowel). This is done in order to physically view the inside surface of the bowel. There are various reasons why we perform this procedure. The most common reason is as a screening test for colon cancer which is currently one of the most commonly occurring cancers in the world. Guidelines say that all persons over the age of 50 should have a colonoscopy done and thereafter at least every 5 years. Other reasons why we would perform a colonoscopy is to find a cause for specific symptoms related to the large bowel. This could be abdominal pain, unexplained diarrhoea or constipation, change in regular bowel habits, bleeding from the anus, unexplained weight loss, or unexplained anaemia. One of the major benefits of colonoscopy as opposed to other types of investigations such as Barium Enema, is that if a lesion is seen, it can be biopsied or removed entirely. Two common lesions that are encountered during colonoscopy are polyps and diverticula. Polyps are ingrowths into the colon and if left untreated may develop into colon cancer and therefore need to be removed. Diverticula on the other hand are small out-pouchings of the large bowel and is a benign process than can be left alone.
Because we physically have to view the inside surface of the colon, it is important that the colon is cleared of all content (stool/faeces). This is a bit of an unpleasant process for the patient but is very necessary in order to get adequate information from the procedure. The process of bowel preparation involves only taking clear fluids on the day prior to surgery, and taking a special laxative to help the colon to expel its content. Please download and read the attached instruction form on how to use the preparation, and what you may and may not drink.
We do colonoscopies in the endoscopy room at the practice or as a day procedure in hospital where necessary. You will get a conscious sedation so that you don't feel any discomfort during the procedure, and will wake up quickly afterwards. After the procedure you will be allowed to eat and drink normally.
As with all surgical procedures, there are unfortunately complications associated with the procedure. The worst of which is perforation of the colon (ie. a hole is accidentally made in the bowel). The incidence of perforation is very small with many studies having been done, the average of which is 0.6%. Therefore the risk is very small. With a perforation the problem is that some content of the bowel may leak out and cause infection in the abdomen. It may therefore be required that surgery be performed to repair such an injury. Other complications may include bleeding, bloatedness, discomfort, and flatulence. These should resolve spontaneously with time. If any symptoms do not resolve by the following day, please contact the practice immediately.
If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact the practice.
Below are links to download further information on colonoscopy prepartion and procedure overviews.