Colonoscopy

Click here to view an animated version of this procedure.

Definition

A colonoscopy is an exam of the large intestine, also known as the colon. The exam is done with a tool called a colonoscope. The colonoscope is a flexible tube with a tiny camera on the end. This tool allows the doctor to view the inside of your colon.
Colonoscopy
Colonoscope
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Reasons for Procedure

A colonoscopy is used to examine, diagnose, and treat problems in your colon. The procedure is most often done to:
  • Determine the cause of abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, or a change in bowel habits
  • Detect and treat colon cancer or colon polyps
  • Take tissue samples for testing
  • Stop intestinal bleeding
  • Monitor response to treatment if you have inflammatory bowel disease

Possible Complications

Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have a colonoscopy, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
  • Bleeding
  • Puncture of the bowel
Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:Be sure to discuss these risks with your doctor before the procedure.

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