Once, abdominal surgery was once necessary to remove colon polyps or perform biopsies on the colon or rectum. Colonoscopy can be used to perform these procedures.
Usually done on an outpatient basis, colonoscopies afford a physician the ability to examine thoroughly a patient's colon and rectum for problems with the least possible inconvenience and discomfort to the patient. It is a procedure done to evaluate abdominal symptoms, inflammatory bowel disease, the findings of a barium enema test, bloody stools and patients who have histories of colon polyps or cancer.
To conduct a colonoscopy, the doctor inserts (into the anus) a scope with a small video camera at the tip and moves it slowly through the colon until it reaches the point where the large bowel meets the small bowel. This technology yields information far superior to that of a simple x-ray.
Should the colonoscopy reveal polyps, the surgeon can biopsy or remove them with a forceps instrument that he or she inserts via the endoscope. Biopsies are retrieved the same way.
The procedure lasts less than one hour, and the patient can return to his or her regular diet later the same day. The colonoscopy is performed under sedation. Patients can go home the same day.