A colonoscopy is a screening tool that enables doctors to view the lining of the colon without surgery. Colonoscopies aid in the detection of colon cancer and other conditions. Most adults should schedule their first colonoscopy around age 50, but individuals with certain symptoms or a family history of colon cancer should have one sooner. Dr. Ian Martinez, the board-certified gastroenterologist at Gastroenterology Services in Oviedo, FL, performs colonoscopy screenings.
The Colonoscopy Procedure
A colonoscopy is usually performed as an outpatient procedure with most patients returning home a few hours later. Patients remain awake during the procedure, but sedatives or painkillers will be administered to minimize potential discomfort. The actual procedure typically takes no more than 45 minutes to perform.
The colonoscopy procedure is performed using a device called a colonoscope, which is a thin, flexible tube with a tiny built-in video camera. The colonoscope is gently inserted into the anus and slowly passed through the large intestine. As the colonoscope passes through, the camera transmits live video images of the intestinal lining to a monitor or screen, which can be viewed by the doctor in real-time. If polyps or other abnormalities are observed, the colonoscope can be used to remove them for biopsy.
When a Colonoscopy is Needed
Healthy men and women should schedule their first colonoscopy at age 50. The risk of developing colon cancer begins to increase at 50 years of age and older. However, individuals with a higher risk for colon cancer due to family history or other risk factors should have a colonoscopy around the age of 40. The experienced gastroenterologist at our office in Oviedo, FL, performs colonoscopy screening and can determine how soon you need one.
A colonoscopy might also be needed at an earlier age for patients experiencing certain symptoms, as they might be signs of another gastrointestinal disorder, such as ulcerative colitis or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Symptoms that might require further examination via colonoscopy screening include:
- Abdominal pain
- Rectal bleeding
- Chronic diarrhea
- Chronic intestinal problems
- Unexpected weight loss
- Persistent constipation
Colonoscopies aid in the early detection of colon cancer when it is easier to treat. Everyone should schedule their first colonoscopy at 50 years of age or sooner if there is a family history of colon cancer. Schedule a consultation with Dr. Martinez to discuss when you might need your first colonoscopy by calling Gastroenterology Services in Oviedo, FL, at (407) 478-0882.