A colonoscopy is one of the easiest and most accurate ways to detect malignancies of the rectum and large intestine. At Gastrointestinal Specialists in Bala Cynwyd, Philadelphia, and Langhorne, your team of seven board-certified gastroenterologists recommend and perform colonoscopies, heading off one of today's most prevalent cancers and other conditions of the bowel. Learn the particulars of this innovative diagnostic test and how it could save your life.

What Does a Colonoscopy Involve?

Done on an outpatient basis, one of our Bala Cynwyd doctors will insert a lighted and flexible tube into the anus and advance it through the large intestine. During the 45-minute procedure, your physician will use a tiny camera to take real-time videos and color photos of the entire length of your colon, looking for abnormalities such as ulcerations, cancerous tumors, and benign polyps.

Additionally, the doctor can cauterize areas of bleeding and take samples for biopsy. This painless tissue sampling removes polyps, or adenomas, which may or may not be cancerous. Left alone, however, they could develop into cancer.

During the procedure, you will be sedated, but also conscious and able to respond to simple verbal commands. Typically, patients are side-lying and feel no pain during the test.

In fact, the colonoscopy itself is so easy that most people say the pre-operative preparation is what's difficult. The day before the procedure, patients consume a clear liquid only diet and take copious amounts of laxatives to completely clear the colon. The process gives the doctor a clear view of the interior walls of the large intestine.

Afterwards, you will rest in a recovery area for about an hour. Then, an adult friend or relative will drive you home.

Your physician will review your photos and his findings with you right in the recovery area. Biopsy results take several days.

Signs You Need a Colonoscopy:

There are several signs indicating that you should see a colonoscopist, the most common of which is age. The American Cancer Society says that 45 to 50 is best for your first screening and then at intervals depending on your gastroenterologist's advice. Typically, people who have polyps are screened more frequently than those who do not.

Additional signs you need a colonoscopy are:

  1. You have persistent, chronic diarrhea or rectal bleeding.
  2. You have unexplained abdominal pain.
  3. You have a first-degree relative (mother, father, sister, child) who has had colon cancer.
  4. Your stools look thin and pencil-like.
  5. You are fatigued and/or are anemic.
  6. You have lost weight and do not know why.
Don't Be Afraid

A colonoscopy is actually your friend as it detects gastrointestinal problems in their earliest stages and provides the best treatment outcomes. If your 50th birthday is coming or if it's time for your next routine colonoscopy, please contact Gastrointestinal Specialists. We have three Pennsylvania locations to serve you. For Bala Cynwyd, phone (610) 664-9700, for Philadelphia, call (215) 632-3500, and for Langhorne, phone (215) 702-7090.