Liver Specialist / Hepatology



Colonoscopy is a medical procedure that involves the examination of the inner lining of the large intestine (colon) and rectum using a flexible tube with a camera and light source at its tip, known as a colonoscope. This procedure is used to diagnose and screen for various gastrointestinal conditions, particularly those affecting the lower digestive tract.
During a colonoscopy, a gastroenterologist or a trained healthcare professional inserts the colonoscope through the anus and gently advances it through the rectum and into the colon. The camera at the end of the scope transmits real-time images of the colon’s lining to a monitor, allowing the healthcare provider to inspect the mucosal surface for abnormalities, such as polyps, inflammation, ulcers, and signs of colorectal cancer.

Colonoscopy serves several important purposes:

  1. Colorectal Cancer Screening: Colonoscopy is a highly effective method for detecting early signs of colorectal cancer. Polyps, which are small growths on the inner lining of the colon, can potentially turn into cancer over time. During a colonoscopy, these polyps can be identified and removed, reducing the risk of cancer development.
  2. Diagnosis and Evaluation: Colonoscopy can be used to diagnose conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), diverticulosis, and colorectal cancer. It’s also used to investigate symptoms like persistent changes in bowel habits, rectal bleeding, unexplained abdominal pain, and weight loss.
  3. Polyp Removal and Biopsy: If polyps or suspicious areas are detected during the colonoscopy, the healthcare provider can perform biopsies (taking small tissue samples) or remove polyps for further examination to determine if they are cancerous or precancerous.
  4. Treatment: In some cases, colonoscopy can be used to treat certain conditions. For example, it can be used to stop active bleeding from a bleeding ulcer or to dilate narrow areas of the colon that might be causing blockages.

Colonoscopy is generally performed with the patient sedated or under anesthesia to minimize discomfort. While the procedure itself is safe, there are potential risks and complications, including bleeding, infection, and perforation of the colon. Patients typically receive instructions on how to prepare for the procedure, which may involve dietary restrictions and bowel cleansing to ensure a clear view of the colon’s lining.

The frequency of colonoscopy varies based on an individual’s risk factors and the reason for the procedure. It is an essential tool in the prevention, early detection, and management of colorectal diseases.