The early stages of colon cancer often don’t have symptoms, which is why preventive screening with a colonoscopy is an important way to protect your health. You may also need a colonoscopy to diagnose and treat a variety of other intestinal problems. Dr. Mark Schadt and Dr. Richard Conron, Jr. at General Surgical Care have the expertise you need when it’s time for a colonoscopy. If you have any questions about a colonoscopy procedure, call their office in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, or schedule an appointment online for a consultation.
A colonoscopy is a procedure used to examine the inside of your rectum and the entire length of your colon. The device used to perform the procedure, a colonoscope, is a long, thin, flexible tube with a camera that allows your surgeon at General Surgical Care to detect abnormalities inside the rectum and colon.
Your primary care physician may recommend a screening colonoscopy to determine the cause of abdominal pain, chronic constipation or diarrhea, rectal bleeding, inflammatory bowel disease, and other intestinal problems.
Colonoscopies are also used to screen for colon cancer. A baseline colonoscopy is recommended when you reach the age of 50 to be sure you don’t have polyps or precancerous changes.
If you have any of the following risk factors for colon cancer, your doctor may recommend getting a colonoscopy at an earlier age:
Your surgeon at General Surgical Care can take tissue samples and remove polyps or other abnormal tissues during a colonoscopy. Many problems in the colon can be treated during the procedure. For example, bleeding can be stopped, and a balloon or stent can be inserted if the colon is blocked.
Your bowels must be clean to ensure your surgeon can see the walls of the colon during your procedure. You’ll receive specific instructions before your colonoscopy that may include a liquid diet and a laxative or special fluid to drink that cleanses your bowels.
The doctors at General Surgical Care perform colonoscopies at St. Luke’s Hospital, where they work together with an anesthesia team to provide IV sedation. This type of anesthesia alleviates discomfort and makes you feel relaxed and drowsy, but it doesn’t put you totally under like general anesthesia.
A colonoscopy takes 20-60 minutes, depending on whether polyps or other health concerns are discovered and removed. You should not plan on returning to work, driving, or drinking alcohol on the same day, but most people can eat normally after the colonoscopy is finished.