While the procedure has become relatively standard, there still are colonoscopy risks that should be mitigated so that the procedure is as safe as possible. There are many things that can be done to prevent having any complications from a colonoscopy. But first, it is important to know exactly what a colonoscopy entails so that a person can understand the procedure and the colonoscopy risks.
A colonoscopy may be done in the doctors office, a hospital or in an outpatient clinic. In the ideal situation a person will take a large amount of a colon preparation solution to clean out the colon beforehand. The preparation empties the colon so that the scope can be passed into the lumen and take a look around. The preparation has a the risk of dehydration since many people will have diarrhea from the solution. This dehydration can be prevented by making sure that the person is drinking an adequate amount of fluids before and after the procedure. These fluids will make sure that the person is hydrated enough and can easily find a vein for the next phase of the exam.
Just before your exam, you may be given a sedative, which will help a person to relax. Most of the time the medicine is with a needle in your vein via an IV. The person will lie on a table on the side with knees bent and drawn up to the stomach. This position makes it easier for the healthcare provider to pass the colonoscope into the anus and rectum and up into the colon. As the scope is passed there is always a risk of colon perforation. The risk of perforation depends on the experience of the provider as well as other factors. A poor colon preparation can also increase the chances of a colon perforation since their is likely to be a decent amount of stool left in the colon and it will be difficult to visualize the structures.
Your provider can view the images of the colon on a monitor. As the scope is passed into the colon, air is pumped into the colon so your provider can see as much of the walls of the colon as possible. This air may make a person feel bloated and give cramps. If the air is not sterile, there is a chance of having a bowel infection. This chance is low since the colon is used to having a large amount of bacteria in it. If your provider sees anything abnormal during the exam, he or she may take small samples of tissue through the colonoscope for testing. It is possible to remove any abnormal areas, polyps, or small tumors from the colon through the colonoscope. This may help you avoid having another procedure. The removal does increase the chance for a bowel infection slightly.
After the scope is removed, the patient may rest until they are awake and alert enough to be driven home. The patient should plan on continuing to rest for a few hours after getting home. It is normal to have gas and mild cramps for a few hours after the exam. At this time some of the colonoscopy risks may show up so it is important to pay attention to abnormal symptoms that may occur.
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