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What Is a Colonoscopy?

Just as a gastroscopy is an examination of the upper digestive tract, a colonoscopy is an examination of the lower digestive tract, or colon. A colonoscope is flexible and like other endoscopes combines the features of magnification and illumination. It is fairly long and enables the doctor to view the entire colon.

For the lower third of the colon, an instrument called a sigmoidoscope is used, which is rigid but shorter than the colonoscope which enables an examination of the bowel for polyps, tumors and other diseases. The instrument used for seeing inside the rectum and anus is called a proctoscope.

If you are to have a colonoscopy, you will normally be given a laxative or an enema and then be instructed to drink only clear fluids until the test is performed. You may experience some discomfort and will possibly be mildly sedated. The examination takes about an hour.

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