A colonoscopy is a procedure that allows expert gastroenterologist S. Radi Shamsi, MD, of Los Angeles Gastroenterology Clinic, to check the health of your colon. He’ll use a small flexible tube with a light and camera attached. The procedure looks for abnormal growths, ulcers, and inflamed tissue. It’s often used for rectal and colon cancer screening, too. A colonoscopy can even help check for causes of rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, weight loss, or changes in bowel habits. Dr. Shamsi’s convenient Santa Monica, California office, provides a state-of-the-art environment, so you can feel confident that you’ll get a thorough diagnosis from your colonoscopy.
Before the procedure, Dr. Shamsi will give you instructions that you must carefully follow. For the procedure to be accurate and safe, your colon must be completely empty and clean. This often requires you to take a large amount of a special cleansing solution, or follow a diet restricted to clear liquids, without any food colorings. This diet may include fat-free broth or bouillon, water, plain tea or coffee, some diet sodas, strained fruit juices, and gelatin.
Before your procedure, let Dr. Shamsi know about any medications you’re taking, especially aspirin, arthritis medications, blood thinners, diabetes medicines, or vitamins that contain iron. You should also alert him if you have any heart or lung disease, or about any other medical condition that may require special attention.
Because you will be sedated during the procedure, you will also need to arrange for someone to take you home after it’s completed. You may not take a taxi or bus home without an escort.
While a colonoscopy rarely causes any pain, you may be given a sedative to help you relax. You’ll be asked to lie on your side or back, and your vital signs will be monitored throughout the procedure.
A long, thin, flexible tube will then be slowly inserted in your rectum and guided into your colon. This instrument, a colonoscope, transmits a picture onto a TV screen, so that Dr. Shamsi can examine the lining of your colon.
The procedure can take anywhere from 15 minutes to one hour to complete. When Dr. Shamsi finishes your colonoscopy, he’ll gently remove the scope while examining the lining of your bowels. You can then rest at the facility, so the sedative can wear off.
You’ll be given some post-procedure instructions, which you should read carefully. It’s likely that you’ll have to avoid taking any blood thinners for a short time after your colonoscopy, especially if any polyps were removed, or if you had a biopsy. Expect a full recovery from your colonoscopy by the next day. You may normally return to all of your regular activities at that point.
In addition to examining the lining of your colon and bowel, Dr. Shamsi can perform some other medical procedures during a colonoscopy. Tiny tools can go through the scope, which can remove polyps. These polyps are abnormal growths that appear on the lining of your colon. Most polyps are not cancerous, but they can become cancerous over time. By identifying these polyps and removing them, a colonoscopy can prevent most cancers from forming.
Other tissue samples can be taken from your colon during a colonoscopy, too. These tissues can then be tested for additional diseases, or cancer. During your procedure, any bleeding in your colon can be corrected with lasers, heater or electrical probes, or special medicines. Colonoscopies are usually painless. Diagnosis and treatment during a colonoscopy can usually be safely done in-office, without the need for any hospitalization.