Colonoscopy involves the use of a long, skinny, flexible tube with a TV
camera computer chip at the end to view the inside lining and contours of
the large intestine (the colon and rectum) on a color television screen.
Small doses of sedative medication (not anesthetic agents) are admini-
stered intravenously to achieve a natural sleep-like state called "deep
sedation." While the patient sleeps, the scope is easily passed through the
anus into the rectum and around the entire length of the colon (about four
to five feet).
Colonoscopy permits the doctor to diagnose a variety of abnormalities
such as colitis, diverticulosis, bleeding, polyps and tumors. When necessary,
the doctor can take biopsy specimens, cauterize bleeding vascular malfor-
mations, remove polyps as well as destroy or debulk tumors with a laser or
the most current state of the art equipment, an Argon Plasma Coagulator.
The procedure is commonly performed in an ambulatory surgicenter
or an out-patient hospital endoscopy suite. A properly performed colon-
oscopy takes twenty to thirty minutes. Once the procedure is completed,
the sedation wears off within a matter of minutes, leaving the patient with
little if any discomfort (from small amounts of residual air in the colon).
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