Irritable Bowel Syndrome: What is a Colonoscopy?
What is a Colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is a routine medical procedure that allows your doctor to check the inside of your colon for abnormalities.
What happens during the procedure?
During a colonoscopy, you will lie on your left side so that a colonoscope can be inserted into the colon via the anus. The colonoscope has a tiny video camera on the end of it, which allows the doctor to see the inside of your bowel. The scope will also put air into your colon, which inflates it and makes it easier to see potential problems. The doctor will check for things like:
If any polyps are encountered, the doctor can remove them. They will be sent to the lab for testing.
I have IBS. Why did my doctor order a colonoscopy?
Irritable bowel syndrome is a functional disease. This means that the problem lies with how the bowel works, not how it is constructed. Thus, there will be no physical abnormalities that can confirm a diagnosis of IBS. A colonoscopy is helpful for IBS patients because it can rule out other possible causes of the patient's problems.
How should I prepare for my colonoscopy?
Always follow all the directions your doctor gives you. This is very important. Be sure to ask your doctor any questions you might have. Usually, colonoscopy patients are given the following instructions:
- Don't eat any solid foods or drink any opaque liquids for 2-3 days before the procedure. The bowel must be clean and empty in order for the test to be safe and effective.
- Drink lots of clear liquids like bouillon, clear soft drinks, water, tea, and clear fruit juices. You can also eat gelatin, but be sure to avoid all foods with red coloring as this can dye your colon.
- Take laxatives and enemas if prescribed by your doctor.
- You will be prescribed a laxative to drink. Be sure to drink all of it within the recommended time frame.
- Some people find it helpful to take short, 5 minute walks every 10 minutes while drinking the laxative.
Will it hurt?
Usually, colonoscopy patients feel little to no discomfort. Anesthesia and pain medications may be administered to reduce your anxiety and pain. Because of the anesthetic, you will not be able to drive yourself home, so be sure you have someone to drive you.
Usually colonoscopies have a low incidence of complications. However, in a few cases there may be problems. Call your doctor if you experience any of the following:
- Pass blood or blood clots in your stool more than once
- Persistent abdominal pain
- A fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or greater
These symptoms can indicate bleeding from the site of a removed polyp, or in rare cases (1 out of every 2000 colonoscopies performed), a perforation of the intestine. These are very rare but serious complications that may require medical attention.