Colonoscopy allows your physician to examine the lining of your large intestine, or colon, for abnormalities with the use of a colonoscope, a long, thin, flexible tube. This tube is approximately the thickness of your finger and is inserted into your anus, then slowly advanced into the rectum and colon. The colonoscope also has a lens and light source, which allows the physician to view the images of your large intestine on a video monitor.
Colonoscopy is recommended as a screening test for colorectal cancer as well as an assessment test for chronic diarrhea and rectal bleeding. With this test, abnormalities of the colon are seen in great detail. Should your physician see a need to evaluate an area of inflammation or a suspicious area further, additional instruments can be passed through the colonoscope to take a biopsy. A “biopsy”, a small tissue sample, is taken for many reasons and does not necessarily mean that cancer is suspected.
Indications for Colonoscopy
- Blood in the stool
- Rectal bleeding
- Dark or black stools
- Persistent diarrhea
- Weight loss associated with GI symptoms
- Family history of colon cancer
- Abnormal imaging studies, i.e. Barium enema or CT scan
- Previous history of cancer or colon polyps
- Surveillance for inflammatory bowel disease
- Suspicious change in bowel habits or stool caliber