Minimally Invasive Procedure for Screening and Diagnosing Colorectal Cancer

A colonoscopy is a minimally invasive medical procedure most often performed for the screening and diagnosis of colorectal cancer and to diagnose the causes of chronic diarrhea or chronic constipation. A colonoscopy shows your entire large intestine, from your rectum through the lower end of your small intestine, enabling your doctor to see inflamed tissue, colon polyps, ulcers and bleeding.

Doctors at Loyola Medicine are dedicated to the screening and prevention of colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. Colonoscopy is considered the most sensitive and accurate screening method for colon and rectal cancer, as the procedure enables your doctor to find and remove precancerous growths known as polyps.

How is a Colonoscopy Done?

A colonoscopy is used to diagnose cancers of the colon and rectum. If you are undergoing a colonoscopy, your doctor will provide instructions for colonoscopy preparation. It is necessary for your colon to be completely empty prior to the procedure. To prepare, you will be asked to maintain a liquid diet for one to three days before your procedure, and you will be required to take laxatives the night prior.
On the day of your procedure, you will be given a mild sedative and pain medication to make you comfortable. Your doctor will insert a long, flexible, illuminated tube into your rectum and slowly guide it into your colon. Acting like a camera, the scope provides an image of the inside of your colon.
If a polyp or abnormal tissue is detected, your doctor can remove it by inserting an instrument through the scope. The biopsy of tissue will be sent for further testing.


Colonoscopy Risks

Although extremely minimal and rare, complications can arise during a colonoscopy. You may experience:

  • Bleeding
  • Cardiovascular events
  • Diverticulitis, a condition that occurs when a small pouch in the colon becomes irritated, swollen and infected
  • Perforation, such as a hole or tear in the lining of the colon
  • Severe abdominal pain

Bleeding and perforation are the most common complications from a colonoscopy, but can be managed during the procedure itself.
Doctors at Loyola agree that the benefits of screening far outweigh the risks associated with the procedure.