A colonoscopy is an internal examination of the colon (large intestine) and rectum, using a thin, flexible tube with a camera called a colonoscope. The doctor uses a video monitor to look for abnormalities such as ulcers, polyps, tumors, or areas of inflammation or bleeding. If any irregularities are found, they can be biopsied or removed.
This outpatient exam is often used to screen for colon cancer or to evaluate symptoms such as abdominal pain, change in bowel habits or unexplained weight loss, among other symptoms. It can be completed in less than an hour and is performed under mild sedation to relieve any discomfort.
Colonoscopy for treatment
Colonoscopy can also be used to treat certain diseases, including removal of polyps, widening narrowed areas or blockages, or addressing bleeding from diverticula or lesions. Specialized procedures, such as laser surgery or cauterizing techniques, may also be performed during a colonoscopy.