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What is a Colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is a test used to identify abnormalities or changes in the colon and rectum. This exam uses a flexible scope with a camera to view the inside of your colon and rectum to screen for polyps and cancer and to investigate gastrointestinal symptoms or suspected problems such as bleeding, abdominal pain or changes in your bowel habits.

Colonoscopy screening is considered the gold standard in colorectal cancer screening. This tier one test is the only screening that can prevent and detect colorectal cancer. The American Cancer Society and US Preventive Services Task Force recommend that patients who do not have risk factors for colorectal cancer undergo a screening colonoscopy starting at the age of 45. However, if you have an increased risk of colorectal cancer due to relatives with a history of colorectal cancer or polyps, inflammatory bowel disease, certain digestive and kidney diseases, or certain genetic conditions linked with colorectal cancer, you may need to undergo an initial colonoscopy at a younger age and more frequently. Also if you have a history of colorectal polyps or cancer, you will need to have more frequent colonoscopies. It is also important to note that African Americans are around 20% more likely to get colorectal cancer and about 40% more likely to die from it than other ethnic groups.

Colonoscopy Preparation

Before your colonoscopy, you will need to completely empty out your colon so that your doctor has a clear view of your colon and rectum during the test. In order to achieve this, you will be given specific bowel preparation instructions which may include:

  • Avoiding solid food on the day before the exam, with drinks being limited to clear liquids.
  • Taking a laxative in either pill or liquid form.
  • Sometimes, you may need to use an over-the-counter enema kit before your exam to completely empty the lower colon.
  • Adjusting your medications. Be sure to speak with your doctor at least a week before your colonoscopy regarding diabetes, heart or high blood pressure medications.

The Colonoscopy Procedure at South Denver GI

A colonoscopy is performed with conscious sedation or general anesthesia. Once you enter the procedure room, you will be asked to lie on your left side with your knees drawn up to your chest.

You should feel little or no pain during a colonoscopy. A device called an endoscope, which is connected to a camera, will be inserted into your rectum and a small amount of air will then be used to expand your colon so that the colon walls are visible to the doctor. As the endoscope is moved through your colon and large intestine, it will send images to an external monitor for your doctor to see. Tissue samples may also be taken during this time. From start to finish, a colonoscopy usually takes 20-30 minutes to complete.

After your colonoscopy, it can take up to an hour for you to completely wake up from the sedative, though most patients are discharged approximately 30 minutes post-procedure. You will need to have someone to drive you home after your test.

Colonoscopy Results

If no abnormalities are found, a colonoscopy is considered negative. If abnormal tissue or polyps are found in the colon, it is considered a positive colonoscopy. In these cases, your doctor will advise you on the appropriate next steps. Biopsy results will be communicated to both you and your referring provider.

These people were all extremely professional and kind. The bedside manner from all staff was great and they were thorough with all information. Medical stuff is hard to deal with, but with people like this, the discomfort was eased. I highly recommend this office to anyone needing this type of help.

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My experience with South Denver GI has been outstanding. Everyone I have met on the staff is exceptionally professional with tremendous people skills. Top-notch practice that I would unequivocally recommend to anyone.

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The front staff was immediately attentive as soon as I walked in. The nurses and PAs were professional and very nice, and the doctors were even better. The procedure went smoothly and could not have gone better. Of course, having positive lab results makes it easier to post a glowing report but I got the impression that if I had been diagnosed differently, they would have taken care of me with the same kindness and dedication.

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Your South Denver GI Team

At South Denver GI, our team of physicians and advanced practice providers have the expertise to provide you with outstanding care. If you would like to learn more about Colonoscopy or need to schedule an appointment at our office, contact us today!

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