The colon is the part of the intestines that runs from the small bowel to the rectum. It is often called the large bowel and is several feet in length. It is responsible for removing the water from the food we eat, as it passes through  the intestines. The colon is a common site for cancer.

Colonoscopy is a procedure that examines the whole interior lining of the colon. We do this procedure at our facility under twilight sleep.

The colonoscope is a flexible tube with a camera and powerful light source at it’ s tip, that is passed through the anal opening as far as the appendix and small bowel. It is done to identify problems in the lining of the colon such as:

Cancers of the lining, which often arise from polyps. Suspicious lesions are  biopsied to make a diagnosis in order to find the best treatment.  Colon cancer is one of the commonest cancers of the body, but colonoscopy can detect them early  and prevent spread. The most common symptom of colon cancer is passage of dark red blood in the stool and abdominal pain. If not treated promptly, they can cause a blockage of the bowel.

Polyps are growths on the lining of the colon which if left alone, often become cancerous. They can be removed through the colonoscope safely, and examined under the microscope to make sure they are not malignant, which they rarely are if caught early. The possibility of the presence of these precancerous polyps is the main reason that we suggest screening colonoscopies, as small colon polyps are symptomless, and if not removed they are dangerous.

Diverticulosis occurs usually in the lower colon, and are little balloon like sacs no more than a fraction of an inch in size that bud out from the wall of the colon, and are most usually located close to the end in the left lower area of the abdomen. There are many theories as to their cause, but no one is quite sure. There maybe a dozen or more in some patients and are more common the older one gets. They cause no problems unless they become infected, in which case they are treated with antibiotics. Symptoms of infection (diverticulitis) are fever and pain in the left lower abdomen.

Colitis is inflammation of the colon wall. This can be caused by infection which is treated with antibiotics, or Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). The cause of IBD is unknown and is divided into Crohn’s Diaease, and Ulcerative Colitis. These diseases are treated by Gastro-enterologists, who are doctors specializing in the treatment of disease of the intestinal tract.

Who should Have a Colonoscopy? 

Patients with unexplained rectal bleeding. Any person who has a family history of colon cancer should have a colonoscopy at age 35 and should be screened by colonoscopy every five years, or annually if precancerous polyps are found.

Both men and women should have screening  colonoscopy at age 50 and every five years thereafter. If precancerous polyps are found yearly colonoscopy is needed.

Patients who have been treated for colon cancer require regular colonoscopies, as they are at risk for a second colon cancer.

Complications of colonoscopy are rare and include bleeding which almost always stop on it’s own, and micro perforation (small pinhead size hole), which is treated with antibiotics, and bowel rest.