Colonoscopy is a diagnostic and therapeutic examination that uses a thin flexible tube with a light and camera at the end to examine the entire large intestine (bowel), including the anus, rectum, sigmoid, descending, transverse, ascending colon, cecum and sometimes terminal ileum (last part of small intestine). Colonoscopy is commonly used to diagnose polyps
, inflammatory bowel syndrome (including Crohn's disease and Ulcerative Colitis), colon cancer, and diverticular disease. Baseline screening colonoscopy is recommended for everyone at age 50, unless other circumstances warrant earlier surveillance, such as family history of colon cancer, personal history of certain cancers or inflammatory disorders (colitis
), or change in bowel habits or bleeding. For the colonoscopy, you will be asked to lay on your left side with your legs bent up towards your chest. You will then be sedated by an anesthesiologist who will monitor your vital signs [blood pressure, heart function, (breathing) respiratory] and level of comfort throughout your procedure. During colonoscopy, your doctor can obtain biopsies
to help confirm a diagnosis or perform a therapeutic maneuver to remove polyps. Neither of these procedures will be uncomfortable. During colonoscopy, air is used to "inflate" your bowel to enable your doctor to fully examine the lining of your large intestine/bowel. For this reason, you may experience some gas cramping after the procedure and will be encouraged to expel the gas in the recovery area. The colonoscopy usually lasts 20-40 minutes followed by a 30 minute recovery period.