Proper digestion and expulsion of waste is critical to good health. Unfortunately, due to genetics, diet, trauma or disease, not everyone can digest properly or avoid problems with the colon. Occasionally, such individuals have to undergo a procedure known as a colonoscopy in order to find out what specific problems they have with their colon, so that they can receive effective treatment. A physician uses specific equipment when performing a colonoscopy.
A colonoscopy is a relatively simple procedure that is used to determine colon health. In this procedure, a tool known as a colonoscope is inserted into the patient’s anus and fed carefully through the length of the colon. The patient usually is sedated for the procedure, which takes only about an hour. The doctor will use the results to determine how to proceed with the patient's colon treatment.
The main tool of a colonoscopy is the colonoscope. This tool is a flexible tube that is lighted, and which has a tiny camera attached to it. When the colonoscope is inserted through the anus and into the length of the colon, the colonoscope tube is inflated, which allows the colon to be opened and images of the colon to be sent back via the camera to the doctor.
In order to see the images sent by the camera on the colonoscope, the doctor performing the colonoscopy uses a computer screen hooked up to the colonoscope. The doctor is able to see “inside” the patient by looking at the screen images, and therefore can better maneuver the colonoscope inside the colon. The screen allows the doctor to see in real time any problems such as impaction, polyps or bleeding. She then can use this information to form a diagnosis.
Examination Table/Sanitization Equipment
During a colonoscopy, the patient usually lies on his side on an examination table, so that he is comfortable and in order to prevent problems with positioning due to sedation. Additionally, doctors who perform colonoscopies use typical precautions, including sterile gloves and sanitizing gels, to help prevent the spread of infections.
Vital Sign Monitors
Because a colonoscopy requires sedation, doctors are careful to monitor the vital signs of the patient undergoing the procedure. They do this through various equipment—they may hook the patient up to a heart monitor, for instance, or they may check blood pressure with a blood pressure cuff.
Sometimes polyps are encountered during a colonoscopy. If this happens, the doctor may insert a wire snare through the main colonoscope, place the snare around the polyp, and squeeze it off. The doctor then may use an electric cauterizer to stop any bleeding. If a biopsy is needed, a long, thin biopsy needle is inserted through the colonoscope to take a tissue sample.
The instruments used during a colonoscopy may cause bleeding or tears in the colon in rare cases. Patients also may feel bloated and experience abdominal distension after the procedure. They shouldn't operate any motor vehicle after the colonoscopy, due to effects from the sedatives.