Colonoscopy is a procedure that uses a long, flexible, narrow tube with a light and tiny camera on one end to look inside the rectum and entire colon. Colonoscopy can show irritated and swollen tissue, ulcers, and polyps.

A colonoscopy is performed to help diagnose

  • Changes in bowel habits
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bleeding from the anus
  • Weight loss
  • Colon cancer

> Preparing for a Colonoscopy

> How is a colonoscopy performed?

> After a Colonoscopy

What are the risks of colonoscopy?
The risks of colonoscopy include

  • Bleeding
  • Perforation—a hole or tear in the lining of the colon.
  • Diverticulitis—a condition that occurs when small pouches in the colon, called diverticula, become irritated, swollen, and infected.
  • Cardiovascular events, such as a heart attack, low blood pressure, or the heart skipping beats or beating too fast or too slow.
  • Severe abdominal pain.
  • Death, although this risk is rare.

Bleeding and perforation are the most common complications. Most cases of bleeding occur in people who have polyps removed. The gastroenterologist can treat bleeding that occurs during the colonoscopy right away. However, a person may have delayed bleeding up to 2 weeks after the test. The gastroenterologist diagnoses delayed bleeding with a repeat colonoscopy and treats it with an electrical probe or special medication. Perforation may need to be treated with surgery.

Get Screened for Colon Cancer
The American College of Gastroenterology recommends screening for colon cancer

  • At age 50 for people who are not at increased risk of the disease
  • At age 45 for African Americans because they have an increased risk of developing the disease

Dr. Jones may recommend earlier screening for people with a family history of colon cancer, a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease, or other risk factors for colon cancer.