Colonoscopy is a procedure that lets your doctor look inside your entire large intestine using a colonoscope. The procedure lets your doctor see inflamed tissue, abnormal growths and ulcers.

Your doctor may recommend a colonoscopy for a number of reasons:

  • To look for early signs of cancer in the colon and rectum.
  • To look for causes of unexplained changes in bowel habits.
  • To evaluate symptoms like abdominal pain, rectal bleeding and weight loss.
  • To remove polyps from your colon.

How It's Performed

You'll need to do a bowel prep the day before the exam. Your doctor will give you instructions for the prep.

On the day of the procedure, you'll usually be given medication in a vein (IV) to help you relax and not feel any discomfort. You'll be awake during the test and may even be able to speak, but you likely will not remember anything.

You'll lie on your left side with your knees drawn up toward your chest. The colonoscope is inserted through the anus. The instrument is gently moved into the beginning of the large bowel and slowly moved as far as the lowest part of the small intestine.

Air will be inserted through the scope to give the physician a better view. Suction may be used to remove fluid or stool.

Because the physician gets a better view as the colonoscope is pulled back out, a more careful examination is done then. Tissue samples may be taken with tiny biopsy forceps inserted through the scope. Polyps may be removed with small wire loops called snares, and photographs may be taken.

After a Colonoscopy

  • Drink plenty of liquids.
  • Eat a healthy meal to restore your energy. You should be able to return to your regular activities the next day.
  • Avoid driving, operating machinery, drinking alcohol and making legal decisions for at least 24 hours after the test.

Request a Referral

Scottsdale Osborn Medical Center: 480-882-5740.

Scottsdale Shea Medical Center: 480-882-7490.

Scottsdale Thompson Peak Medical Center: 480-882-7510.

Deer Valley Medical Center: 623-780-0100.

John C. Lincoln Medical Center: 602-943-2381.