Colonoscopy
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings
Answers

What is Colonoscopy?

Click here to view an animated version of this procedure.

It is used to examine, diagnose, and treat problems in your large intestine. The procedure is most often done for the following reasons:

  • To determine the cause of abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, or a change in bowel habits
  • To detect and treat colon cancer or colon polyps
  • To obtain tissue samples for testing
  • To stop intestinal bleeding
  • Monitor response to treatment if you have inflammatory bowel disease

Possible Complications

Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have a colonoscopy, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:

  • Bleeding
  • Perforation or puncture of the bowel

Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

  • Pre-existing heart or kidney condition
  • Treatment with certain medicines, including aspirin and other drugs with anticoagulant or blood-thinning properties
  • Prior abdominal surgery or radiation treatments
  • Active colitis , diverticulitis , or other acute bowel disease
  • Previous treatment with radiation therapy

Be sure to discuss these risks with your doctor before the procedure.

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