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DefinitionA 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.
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Reasons for ProcedureA 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 evaluation under a microscope—biopsy
- Stop intestinal bleeding
- Monitor response to treatment if you have inflammatory bowel disease
Possible ComplicationsComplications 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:
- Puncture of the bowel
- Pre-existing heart or kidney condition
- Treatment with certain medications, including aspirin and other drugs with blood-thinning properties
- Prior abdominal surgery
- Active colitis , diverticulitis , or other acute bowel disease
- Previous treatment with radiation therapy