A colonoscopy allows a doctor to look inside the entire large intestine. It's the most effective method available to both detect and help prevent colon cancer.
The procedure enables the doctor to see things such as abnormal growths and inflamed tissue. It is most often used to look for early signs of cancer in the colon and rectum. It is also used to look for causes of unexplained changes in bowel habits and to evaluate symptoms like abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, and weight loss.
The doctor can remove most abnormal growths in the colon, including polyps, which are removed using tiny tools passed through the scope. Most polyps are not cancerous, but they could turn into cancer. By identifying and removing polyps, a colonoscopy likely prevents most cancers from forming.
The doctor can also remove tissue samples to test in the lab for diseases of the colon (biopsy). In many cases, a colonoscopy allows for accurate diagnosis and treatment of colon abnormalities without the need for a major operation.
A colonoscopy usually takes 30 to 60 minutes. A sedative and pain medicine keeps patients from feeling much discomfort during the exam.
At ECHN, colonoscopies are performed by gastroenterologists and colon and rectal surgeons.
Manchester Memorial Hospital, Rockville General Hospital and Evergreen Endoscopy Center have state-of-the-art GI suites where colonoscopies and other GI procedures are performed.
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