What is Colonoscopy?

colonoscopy in toronto

A colonoscopy is a procedure in which a thin flexible tube with a camera attached on its end, called a colonoscope, is inserted into your rectum, allowing your doctor to examine your colon for any abnormalities. If any abnormal tissue growths, called polyps, are found during the procedure, they will be promptly removed and sent to the lab for a more detailed look. Tissue biopsies are usually taken even if polyps are not found. You will be given a sedative in order to help you stay comfortable for the entire duration. 

The procedure itself can take anywhere between 20-30 minutes, and you should be prepared to spare around 2-3 hours for the entire process.

Why might you need a colonoscopy?

Your family doctor may refer you to us for a colonoscopy for the following reasons:

  • Screening for cancer
  • Blood in your stool
  • Abdominal pain or bloating
  • Persistent diarrhea or constipation
  • Unexplained weight loss

What does a colonoscopy look for?

In the outpatient setting, most colonoscopies are typically done for the purpose of cancer screening. However, it can also be used to look for diseases such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, diverticular disease or diverticulitis.

Potential risks

In general, colonoscopies are very safe. Very rare complications include:

  • Bleeding: if a polyp or tissue was taken during the procedure, bleeding may rarely occur and cautery will be used to stop it.
  • Perforation: a perforation of the intestinal wall may occur during a colonoscopy. Large ones may require hospitalization or surgery. This rarely occurs: only 1 in every 4,000 colonoscopies.
  • Reaction to anesthesia: each individual reacts differently when it happens. If you have a history of reacting to anesthesia, please let us know. 

What you will experience on the day of your procedure

After checking in, our nurses will prepare you for the procedure and ask you a few questions related to your health. The procedure will typically be done with you lying on your side, with your knees pulled up toward your chest. After you are given the sedative, your doctor will begin the procedure by gently inserting the endoscope into your rectum. Air will be pumped through the endoscope in order to inflate your bowels, allowing better visibility for the doctor as he navigates your intestines. When the colonoscopy is finished, you will be moved to our recovery room, where our nurses will carefully monitor your status as you relax and recover from the procedure. By the time you have fully recovered, your ride should be waiting for you in the lobby, and you can leave after a brief discharge session with one of our staff, where you will be given instructions on follow up appointments and possible treatments. You may feel bloated and gassy, or even see a small amount of blood in your first bowel movement after the procedure. This is normal, and will pass. 

What happens after?

If you had any biopsies taken, it may take several weeks to get your results. You can check with your family doctor or us to get your lab results. You’ll be notified if there is a change to your follow up appointment date and treatment plan.

Please call your local emergency department if you experience any of the following after your colonoscopy:

  • Fever or chills
  • Persistent and worsening abdominal pain
  • Persistent and increasing amounts of blood in your stool

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