Encyclopedia of Family Health - Vol. 3

By David B. Jacoby; Robert M. Youngson | Go to book overview

Colonoscopy

Questions and Answers

I have to have a colonoscopy.
Are there any dangers?

Millions of colonoscopies are done
each year, and complications are
rare. There is a very small risk of
perforation of the wall of the
colon. If a tissue sample (biopsy)
is taken, there is a possibility that
you may see some blood in the
next bowel movement. This will
do no harm, but if you have any
abnormal bleeding tendency you
must tell your doctor.

Is it a good idea to have a routine
colonoscopy at regular intervals?

Colorectal cancer is so common,
and early diagnosis so important,
that many doctors believe that
everyone around 40 should have a
colonoscopy. The problem is really
economic. Other screening tests
also compete for attention. If you
have a history of colonic polyps,
you need frequent checks.

Several of my relatives have
developed colon cancer. Should I
have a colonoscopy?

Yes. There are some familial
conditions that make it more
likely for colon cancer to develop,
and colonoscopy can detect
these. You should bear in mind,
however, that when any disease
is common in a population it is
statistically likely to occur
frequently in a family, without
any genetic basis.

Is colonoscopy more difficult to
perform on women than on men?

Difficulty is experienced in about
30 percent of women but only in
about 16 percent of men, because
women have a longer colon,
especially in the transverse part.
Diverticulitis produces inflamed
pouches protruding from the
wall of the colon. This may make
colonoscopy difficult in either sex.

The ability to directly examine the interior of most of the large intestine
provides doctors with a valuable tool for the early detection and diagnosis
of a range of important conditions, including cancer
.

Until the development of what are called endoscopic methods, doctors had to diagnose conditions on the basis of the patient’s history, the symptoms, and the clinical signs, helped in some cases by X rays and scans (see Diagnostic Imaging). While these are still important parts of the clinical examination, the ability to make direct visual inspection of the actual diseased areas has substantially increased the accuracy and speed of diagnosis. Colonoscopy is the use of endoscopic methods to examine the inside of the large intestine, the colon. It has, to a large extent, replaced the barium enema as a diagnostic procedure (see Barium Liquids).

Colonoscopy is done using a steerable, flexible, fiberoptic colonoscope. This instrument consists of a cable about 39 inches (1 m) long attached to a control head. The cable looks deceptively simple but actually contains several distinct channels, along which pass fiberoptic bundles for internal illumination and viewing, specially designed instruments for taking biopsy samples (see Biopsy), and fluid for washing the area under view. In spite of this complexity, the endoscope cable is flexible and the tip can be turned in any direction so that it can be moved along the interior of the colon to allow direct visual inspection of the entire route. Control knobs in the head of the instrument allow the operator to change the curvature and direction of the tip. The head also includes the eyepiece for the operator and the openings for the various channels. The instrument is usually fitted with a color video camera and viewed on a computer monitor. This allows the convenient taking of color photographs, which are stored on the computer for reference.

During a colonoscopy, a flexible lube is inserted into the anus, through the rectum, and
into the colon, which can then be viewed for the presence of polyps or other disorders
.

-386-

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Encyclopedia of Family Health - Vol. 3
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Bronchitis 294
  • Brucellosis 297
  • Bruises 298
  • Bunions 299
  • Burn Center 301
  • Burns 303
  • Burping 306
  • Bursitis 307
  • Calcium 310
  • Cancer 312
  • Capillaries 318
  • Cardiac Massage 320
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome 322
  • Cartilage 324
  • Cataracts 326
  • Celiac Disease 329
  • Cells and Chromosomes 330
  • Cellular Telephones 333
  • Cerebral Palsy 335
  • Cervix and Cervical Smears 337
  • Cesarean Birth 340
  • Chat Room 343
  • Chelation Therapy 345
  • Chest 347
  • Chicken Pox 349
  • Child Abuse 351
  • Child Development 354
  • Chinese Medicine 358
  • Chiropractic 362
  • Cholera 365
  • Cholesterol 366
  • Chorionic Villus Sampling 367
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome 369
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 370
  • Circulatory System 372
  • Circumcision 374
  • Cirrhosis 375
  • Cleft Palate 376
  • Cloning 377
  • Clubfoot 379
  • Cocaine and Crack 380
  • Cold Sores 382
  • Colon and Colitis 383
  • Colonic Irrigation 384
  • Colonoscopy 386
  • Color Blindness 388
  • Color Therapy 390
  • Colostomy 392
  • Coma 394
  • Common Cold 396
  • Complexes and Compulsions 397
  • Conception 399
  • Congenital Disorders 401
  • Conjunctivitis 403
  • Constipation 404
  • Contact Lenses 406
  • Contraception 407
  • Convalescence 412
  • Convulsions 413
  • Coordination 414
  • Cornea 416
  • Corns 417
  • Coronary Arteries and Thrombosis 419
  • Cosmetics 422
  • Cosmetic Surgery 424
  • Coughing 426
  • Cough Syrup 427
  • Counseling 428
  • Index 431
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