A colonoscopy is an exam of the lower part of the gastrointestinal tract, which is called the colon or large intestine (bowel). Colonoscopy procedure is safe and helps provide information that other tests may not be able to give. In Singapore, colonoscopy is performed by trained specialists such as Gastroenterologists.
Colonoscopy is performed by inserting a device called a colonoscope into the anus and advancing through the entire colon. The procedure generally takes between 30 minutes to one hour.
The most common reasons for colonoscopy are:
Before colonoscopy, your doctor will provide instructions on how to cleanse your colon completely to allow adequate visualization of the entire colon. If your colon is not completely cleaned out, the chances of missed abnormalities increases.
You will need to avoid solid food for at least one day before the test. You should also drink plenty of clear fluids on the day before the test. You can drink clear liquids up to several hours before your procedure, including:
We may also ask you to avoid high fiber foods including seeds and nuts for the week before the procedure.
To clean the colon, you will take a strong laxative and empty your bowels. You may be asked to take the entire preparation the night before the test.
Refrigerating the solution and drinking the solution through a straw also make it easier to drink.
You will be given fluid and medicines through the IV line. With sedation/analgesia provided during the colonoscopy, many people sleep during the test, while others are very relaxed, comfortable, and generally not aware.
The colonoscope is a long black flexible tube, approximately the diameter of the index finger. Your doctor will gently pump air or carbon dioxide and sterile water or saline through the scope into the colon to inflate it and allow the doctor to see the entire lining. You might feel bloating or gas cramps as the air opens the colon. Try not to be embarrassed about passing this gas (it is just air), and let your doctor know if you are uncomfortable.
During the procedure, we might take a biopsy (small pieces of tissue) or remove polyps. Polyps are growths of tissue that can range in size from the tip of a pen to several inches. Most polyps are benign (not cancerous). However, some polyps can become cancerous if allowed to grow for a long time. Having a polyp removed does not hurt.
After the colonoscopy, you will be observed in a recovery area, usually for about 30 to 60 minutes until the effects of the sedative medication wear off.
The most common complaint after colonoscopy is a feeling of bloating and gas cramps. You should pass gas and not feel embarrassed doing this either during or after the procedure. This will relieve your feelings of bloating and cramping.
You may also feel groggy from the sedation medications. You should not return to work, drive, or drink alcohol that day. Most people are able to eat normally after the test.
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