We all know that doctors recommend routine colonoscopies beginning at age 50. This painless, minimally-invasive test screens for colon cancer, the third most deadly malignancy in the US, says the American Cancer Society. That being said, what are the signs that you need a colonoscopy? At Gastro-Intestinal Associates in Lima, our team of seven board-certified gastroenterologists uses this test to uncover a wide range of intestinal problems. Read about them here.
What is a colonoscopy?
It's an in-office or in-hospital examination of the rectum and large intestine, or colon. Using a flexible, lighted instrument, the physician views the entire length of the colon, looking for structural abnormalities, ulcerations, polyps, and signs of cancer. The scope also allows the doctor to take still and real-time video images and to remove tissue for biopsy.
A colonoscopy in Lima requires special bowel preparation the day before the procedure. The regimen includes a clear liquid diet and laxatives to "clean out" the colon so the doctor obtains accurate and complete images.
Most colonoscopies take about 45 minutes and are performed with benefit of light sedation (such as Valium). Patients can respond to commands but often drop off to sleep during the test. In fact, they may remember little or nothing of the procedure the next day. After a brief stay in a recovery area, the patient must be driven home by an adult friend or relative.
Signs you may need a colonoscopy
Age is a factor, of course. Additionally, your primary care physician may ask you to have this test if you have:
- Cramping gas attacks
- Frequent diarrhea
- Blood in the stool
- Unexplained loss of weight
- Persistent fatigue
- Low red blood cell count
- Risk factors such as family history of colon cancer
- Persistent constipation
- Diverticular problems (an irritation of the lining of the intestine)
It's not difficult
In fact, most patients say the day-before preparation is the hardest part of a colonoscopy. However, the effort is worth it because colon screening saves lives and helps your gastroenterologist accurately diagnose and treat other abnormalities of the large intestine.
At Gastro-Intestinal Associates, your professional staff cares for many GI conditions and performs state-of-the-art diagnostics. Call them right away if your primary care physician wants you to have a colonoscopy. Call (419) 227-8209 for an appointment in Lima, OH, today!