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Colonoscopy

Summary

Colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy are procedures that let your doctor look inside your large intestine. They use instruments called scopes. Scopes have a tiny camera attached to a long, thin tube. The procedures let your doctor see things such as inflamed tissue, abnormal growths, and ulcers.

Colonoscopy checks your entire colon and rectum. Sigmoidoscopy checks the rectum and the lower colon only.

Your doctor may recommend one of these procedures

  • To look for early signs of cancer in the colon and rectum. It may be part of a routine screening, which usually starts at age 50.
  • To look for causes of unexplained changes in bowel habits
  • To evaluate symptoms like abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, and weight loss

Your doctor can also remove polyps from your colon during these procedures.

You will get written bowel prep instructions to follow at home before the procedure. The bowel prep cleans out the intestine so your doctor can see everything clearly. During a colonoscopy, you get medicines to keep you relaxed. You usually do not need them for a sigmoidoscopy.

NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Start Here

  • (American College of Surgeons) - PDF
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases) Also in
  • (American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy) Also in

Related Issues

  • (ABIM Foundation)
  • (American College of Gastroenterology) - PDF

Specifics

  • (American College of Radiology, Radiological Society of North America) Also in
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases) Also in
  • (American Cancer Society)
  • (American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Cancer Institute)

Videos and Tutorials

  • Video (American College of Gastroenterology)
  • Video (American College of Radiology, Radiological Society of North America)

Statistics and Research

  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Also in

Clinical Trials

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)

Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)

Find an Expert

  • (American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy)
  • From the National Institutes of Health

Patient Handouts

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