- The colon, or large intestine, is the last part of your digestive tract.
- It starts at the cecum, which attaches to the end of the small intestine.
- The colon is made up of a hollow tube about five feet long that:
- Takes in water and minerals from digested food.
- Ends in the rectum, the last part of the large intestine, which stores undigested solid waste
- A colonoscopy is a test to look inside your colon.
- A colonoscopy is done by a gastroenterologist, a doctor trained in looking at the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
- The main tool used to look inside the colon is a colonoscope (see image below).
- The colonoscope is a long, thin (about the width of your little finger), flexible tube with a tiny camera and a light on the end.
- The colonoscope is long enough to look at all of the large bowel and even the lower part of the small intestine.
- A colonoscopy is a safe and effective way to look for GI health issues and sometimes even treat those health issues.
- It’s important to get a high-quality colonoscopy.
- Keep in mind that high cost doesn’t necessarily mean high quality.
- Ask your doctor how often he or she reaches the end of the large intestine and how often he or she finds polyps.
Source: The Endoscopy Division of FUJIFILM Medical Systems U.S.A., Inc.
A colonoscopy is the main way to check for diseases of the colon
, such as colitis or cancer, and to remove colon polyps.
- A polyp is a mushroom-like growth on the inside wall of the colon or rectum.
- Polyps grow slowly over many years.
- Some polyps become cancerous, others do not.
A colonoscopy is also a safe and helpful way to look at health issues in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract
, such as:
- Belly pain that won’t go away.
- Rectal pain that won’t go away.
- Blood in your stool.
- Change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea (loose stool), that won’t go away.
- Inflamed (swollen) colon that is seen on a computerized tomography (CT) scan.
During a colonoscopy, tools can be passed through the colonoscope
, which is a long, thin (about the width of your little finger), flexible tube with a tiny camera and a light on the end, to painlessly remove a suspicious-looking growth or to biopsy
(take a small tissue sample).