Endoscopy is the term used to describe a medical procedure that uses a fine flexible tube, which houses a light and camera in its tip, to explore parts of the human body such as the colon, stomach and bladder.
Colonoscopy is one such form of endoscopy and is commonly used in diagnosing gastroenterological conditions.
The point of colonoscopy is to routinely and safely examine the human large bowel or colon.
The benefit of this procedure is that the doctor can not only look and see, but they can actually take small samples of tissue, called biopsies, to aid in diagnosis.
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It is always reassuring to know what to expect from an examination before you actually go. A specialist consultant will prepare you in advance and answer any questions.
It is important for the colon to be as empty and as clean as possible, so that when the doctor undertakes the colonoscopy the views are as good as they can be.
In addition to twists and turns in the colon, there are what one can describe as ‘dark corners’ and areas behind a fold, which could hide a polyp.
No test is going to be 100% perfect but a well-performed colonoscopy, in a clean colon, is the best colon cancer detection or bowel cancer prevention test there is available.
Before the colonoscopy you will receive instructions on what to do prior to the procedure. These instructions differ slightly from one doctor or hospital to another, but they are broadly similar.
There are some medical conditions that require special instructions and alterations to the normal regime, for example in diabetic patients or those with heart failure, liver disease or significant kidney dysfunction.
The different approaches are too numerous to go into detail, but of course you should inform your doctor of all medications you are on and also what your past medical history is so that they can make proper arrangements and advise you specifically with regards to what special additional instructions you may need to follow.
Feel reassured that you are not alone and that specialist help is available.