Atrium Health Navicent Gastroenterology & Hepatology


Examination equipment

The 411 On Colonoscopies

While a discussion about having a colonoscopy performed might not be a pleasant thought, it should be viewed as an opportunity at preventative medicine. Most family medical practices will advise individuals over the age of 50 to have such a procedure in order to determine if any potentially cancerous growths are present in the body. Individuals who have a family history of either colon cancer or inflammation of the bowels should undergo the procedure even earlier in life. In addition, African Americans are at particular risk and should consider having the test as early as age 45.

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The Test Explained

This test enables your family physician to take a detailed look at the inside of your large intestine. Potentially deadly cancers can form in the rectum or colon. The test involves a very thin tube that can be navigated to look at the colon and determine if there is anything abnormal that needs to be explored further. If an ulcer, tumor, colon polyp, or any areas of inflammation are caught early on, then ensuing cancer can potentially be prevented. If such foreign legions are discovered, they can often be taken out before they become too serious. The test itself should be viewed as a cancer screening that is designed to be preventative in nature.

You may have heard that a colonoscopy involves the taking of a video of the inner layer of your large intestine and is correct. A colonoscopy is an innovative procedure that your will allow your medical provider to take actual images of the colon and work to remove any growths or deal with irritable inflammation that could cause problems down the road.

Preparing for a Colonoscopy

If you are preparing for a test designed to examine your large intestine, you need to begin by cleaning out of your colon. This process takes roughly one to two days, with some being completed the evening before your appointment at the doctor. The preparation process may be a bit uncomfortable, but the rewards of having the test far outweigh a day or two of unpleasant feelings. Your medical provider will ask you to take part in a clear liquid diet. You will also need to remain close to your home, as frequent restroom visits will be the norm.

The preparation process does cause stools inside the colon to loosen, and diarrhea is common. The goal is to completely empty your colon prior to the doctor probing it with the camera. This will give your physician a much clearer picture. Many doctors will have you drink a specially formulated solution that will speed this process along. The taste can be rather unpleasant, so you should have some clear fruit juice, or soft drink at the ready to drink once the preparation process itself is completed.

Parting Words

While there are certainly other tests available to test for the presence of colon cancer; a colonoscopy is by far the most common and considered the most reliable. It is important to speak about your risk factors, particularly as they relate to family and genetic history, in order to determine when and how often the test should be performed. It is nothing to be afraid of and your medical provider will guide you through the entire process, informing and educating every step of the way. Remember that preventative medicine is highly effective. The earlier any potential cancer in your body is caught, the better your chances are of full recovery.