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A colonoscopy is a diagnostic procedure that allows your doctor to visually examine the inside of the colon for closer inspection of irregularities. This is accomplished by inserting a tube with a camera on the end into the anus and through the colon. The images from the camera are viewed either through the instrument or on a display monitor.

A colonoscopy is typically performed to investigate irregularities found on an x-ray or CT scan, abdominal pain or blood in the stool. They may also be performed regularly for people at an increased risk of developing polyps or colon cancer.

The colon must be completely clean to achieve accurate results from a colonoscopy. Patients will usually be given a special cleansing solution to drink before the exam, or may be asked to consume only a clear liquid diet with laxatives or enemas. Most medications can still be taken, although some such as aspirin or blood thinners may require special instructions. Your doctor will instruct you on how to prepare.

Before the colonoscopy, an IV is inserted with medication to make the patient relaxed and sleepy. During the colonoscopy, the patient lies on their left side or back as the colonoscope is slowly inserted. It reaches all the way to the tip of the colon and examines the lining of the area as it passes in and out. The procedure takes about 15-60 minutes. A biopsy may be taken during the procedure if an area needs to be examined further.

After the procedure, reflexes and judgment may be impaired for the rest of the day. Some cramping or bloating may be experienced, but should be relieved quickly. Eating and other normal activities can resume immediately.

Upper Endoscopy

An upper endoscopy is a diagnostic test used to examine the upper digestive system - the esophagus, stomach, and first part of the small intestine, known as the duodenum. The procedure is done by inserting a thin tube with a light and camera at the end through the mouth and into the esophagus. The images from the camera are viewed on a display screen during the procedure.

An upper endoscopy is used to determine the cause of digestive system symptoms such as abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, heartburn, bleeding and swallowing disorders. It is frequently used to diagnose gastroesophageal reflux disease, as well as ulcers and tumors.

Before the procedure, a local anesthetic will be applied to the back of the throat to relieve pain in the area. An IV with sedation medication may also be used to relax the patient. A mouthpiece is also inserted to keep the mouth open during the procedure. The patient will lie on his or her left side and the doctor will insert the endoscope into the mouth and all the way down to the stomach. A biopsy may be taken during the procedure to further examine a certain area.

After the procedure, the patient will be kept under observation for about 30 minutes while the medication wears off. Temporary soreness of the throat may occur but is usually relieved quickly. Most doctors require that patients are driven home because of the use of sedation. Complications from an upper endoscopy are rare, but if you experience severe abdominal pain, cough, fever, chills or nausea and vomiting, call your doctor immediately.