What is a Colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is an outpatient procedure in which the inside of the large intestine (colon and rectum) is examined. A colonoscopy enables the physician to see abnormalities like inflamed tissue, polyps, ulcers, bleeding and diverticulosis.
The procedure is commonly used to screen for colon cancer.
What happens during a colonoscopy?
During a colonoscopy, a physician uses a colonoscope (a long, flexible instrument about one-half inch in diameter) to view the lining of the colon. The colonoscope is inserted through the rectum and advanced through the large intestine. If necessary during a colonoscopy, small amounts of tissue can be removed for analysis (called a biopsy) and polyps can be identified and removed. In many cases, colonoscopy allows accurate diagnosis and treatment without the need for a major operation.
Why Should I Get One?
In nearly all cases, colon cancer starts as a precancerous growth in the colon called an adenomatous polyp, which usually doesn’t cause symptoms. This is why it’s important to have regular screenings. A colonoscopy detects polyps so they can be removed before they turn into cancer and cause symptoms.
Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer among men and women in the United States. But, the good news is, according to the National Cancer Institute, deaths from colon cancer are declining due to increased use of screening.
Who is it for?
The American College of Gastroenterology recommends colon cancer screenings begin at age 50; or age 45 if you are African American, as this group is at higher risk than whites, Hispanics and other ethnic groups.
Some people should begin screening earlier if they have any of the following, which could increase their colon cancer risk:
- Personal history of colon cancer or precancerous colon polyps, called adenomas
- History of inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s colitis or ulcerative colitis)
- Numerous relatives with colon cancer or adenomatous polyps
- Family history of familial adenomatous polyposis or hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer
What are the Benefits?
The main benefit of a colonoscopy is that it detects and removes polyps before they can turn into cancer. Colonoscopies also can find colorectal cancer early. If cancer is detected and found early, 90 percent of these cases are curable.
About the Preparation
To complete a successful colonoscopy, the bowel must be clean so that the physician can clearly view the colon.
Drinking a bowel preparation is one of the leading deterrents to having a colonoscopy. Fortunately,today’s bowel prep is simpler than ever before as patients can now choose half-gallon options or split doses, where half the prep is taken the night before and the other half the morning of the procedure. Without proper preparation, the colonoscopy will not be successful and may have to be repeated.
Can It Be Too Painful – Or Even Risky?
About 99 percent of patients should be able to be adequately sedated through conscious sedation or twilight sleep to be comfortable during their colonoscopy. Most patients don’t even remember the exam! Cleveland Clinic also offers monitored anesthesia care for patients who require deeper sedation.
When performed by specially trained professionals, colonoscopies are safe. The risk of perforation is less than 1 in 1,000 cases, and the risk of bleeding is less than 1 percent.
Appointments & Locations
To make a same-day appointment please call 877.463.2010.
MyConsult® Online Medical Second Opinion
MyConsult Online Second Opinion program connects patients to the expertise of top Cleveland Clinic specialists without the time and expense of travel. Through our secure web platform, patients can submit their detailed health information, medical records and diagnostic test results. The most appropriate Cleveland Clinic expert is assigned to the consultation and will render a detailed second opinion. The report includes commentary about the diagnosis and treatment options or alternatives and recommendations regarding future therapeutic considerations. Patients are also able to send additional questions to the physician who provided the report. Online medical second opinions are available for more than 1,200 medical diagnoses.
Why Choose Us?
Our Digestive Disease Center unites a number of specialty areas including the departments of gastroenterology, colorectal surgery, hepatobiliary surgery, breast surgery and bariatric and minimally invasive surgery. The board-certified gastroenterologists and colorectal surgeons at Cleveland Clinic Florida are highly experienced in colonoscopy diagnostics, performing more than 6,000 colonoscopies per year. Our Department of Gastroenterology’s goal is to provide comprehensive, innovative, state-of-the-art, compassionate and effective care to improve quality of life for our patients.
In addition to the use of innovative diagnostic tools and treatment, such as endoscopic ultrasound, ablative techniques for Barrett’s esophagus and Spyglass technology, we have the largest small bowel enteroscopy program in South Florida and one of the largest in the state.
Cleveland Clinic Florida was ranked among the top 25 programs in the nation for gasteroenterology and GI surgery by U.S. News and World Report’s Best Hospitals survey for 2019–2020.