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Colonoscopy, an examination of the inside of the colon and rectum. This test can detect ulcers and growths (polyps) inside the colon. If polyps are found, they can be removed at the same time. Colonoscopy looks for early signs of colon cancer and can help diagnose problems related to bleeding, abdominal pain or changes in bowel habits. Colonoscopy not only looks for colon cancer, but can prevent it as well.


The colonoscope has a small camera attached to a flexible tube that can reach the length of the colon. An anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist will administer high level intravenous sedation before the procedure. You should feel no pain and not remember the procedure. You will lie on your left side with your knees drawn up toward your chest.

The colonoscope is inserted through the anus. It is gently moved into the beginning of the large bowel and slowly advanced as far as the lowest part of the small intestine. The doctor may take tissue samples with tiny biopsy forceps inserted through the scope. Polyps may be removed with snares, and images may be taken. You will need to completely cleanse your intestines. A problem in your large intestine that needs to be treated may be missed if your intestines are not cleaned out. Your healthcare provider will give you the steps for cleansing your intestines.

You may have abdominal cramping after the procedure, in general this is mild. Our physicians use carbon dioxide to expand the colon instead of air which dramatically reduces cramping after the procedure.

Colonoscopy may be done for the following reasons:

  • Abdominal pain, changes in bowel movements, or weight loss
  • Abnormal changes (such as polyps) found on sigmoidoscopy or X-ray tests (CT scan or barium enema)
  • Anemia due to low iron (usually when no other cause has been found)
  • Blood in the stool, or black, tarry stools
  • Follow-up of a past finding, such as polyps or colon cancer
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease)
  • Screening for colorectal cancer