What is a Colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is a test to look inside your colon. The colon is also called the bowel, gut or large intestine. Children may need a colonoscopy of they have one or more of the following problems:
- Lower abdominal (belly) pain
- Blood in your bowel movements
- Iron deficiency anemia
- Inflamed bowel (red, swollen, painful)
- To test or treat some polyps or small cancers of the colon. Polyps are lumps of tissue that bulge out from the lining of the intestine. Some polyps and small colon cancers can be completely removed during colonoscopy
When asleep, the doctor will gently put a flexible tube (called an "endoscope") into the anus. This scope is a tube with a magnifying camera and light on the end. The endoscope is passed up the rectum and into the colon. The camera will take pictures of the colon. The pictures appear on a TV screen or monitor. Air may be pumped into the colon to make it bigger so the doctor can see the inside better. A sample of the skin inside the colon (a biopsy) may be taken, which produces little or no pain. The doctor may also take a stool sample. The colonoscopy test lasts between 15 and 60 minutes.
Preparing for Colonoscopy
The colon must be completely empty and clean to do the test. The instructions to clean out the colon are called the "prep." The prep has special directions on foods, drinks and medicines. The prep is very important for the doctor to see the whole colon. Follow the prep carefully with your child. If the prep is not complete before the colonoscopy, the test must be rescheduled.
If your child becomes ill within 72 hours before the procedure, or has recently been exposed to any infectious diseases, please notify the pediatric gastroenterology service at 415-600-0770 as soon as possible.
An IV may be put into a vein in the hand or arm for giving medicine or liquids. Usually patients are given a sedative medicine to help them feel sleepy, relaxed, and less nervous.
After the procedure, the patient will rest in the recovery area for at least an hour, or until awake and coherent. The patient is then free to leave the hospital and return home with a parent or guardian. Please call the Pediatric Specialty Clinic at 415-600-0770 for questions.