A colonoscopy examines the large intestine for inflammation, bleeding, ulcers or abnormal growths, such as polyps or cancer. The doctor uses a colonoscope: a small, lighted camera inside a soft, flexible tube. The procedure usually lasts from 30 minutes to an hour.
The procedure can:
- Detect and treat colon cancer or colon polyps
- Take tissue samples for testing
- Stop intestinal bleeding
- Monitor inflammatory bowel disease treatment
The Colonoscopy Procedure
You will lie on your left side, knees drawn up toward your chest. The doctor will insert the colonoscope through your rectum, inject air, then gently pass the scope through your colon.
The doctor will then:
- Examine the lining of the colon
- Remove tissue samples or polyps, if necessary
During the procedure, you may feel:
- Muscle spasms
- Lower abdominal pain
- The urge to move your bowels
Tell the doctor if you feel any severe pain.
Content was created using EBSCO's Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.