Colonoscopy is a careful viewing of the lining of the colon on a high def video monitor performed by insertion of a thin flexible tube with a tiny video camera on its tip while the patient is asleep or deeply sedated. By passing instruments through the scope, benign growths called polyps, which may sometimes turn into colon cancer, can be removed, and areas of the colon that we want more information about, can be further examined under a microscope by painlessly removing tiny bits of tissue for biopsies.
Colonoscopy is often very useful to help us answer questions about the cause of blood in the stools, iron deficiency anemia, chronic diarrhea, and certain other symptoms. But, most colonoscopies nowadays are not done to investigate symptoms. In fact, they are performed for individuals who have NO symptoms related to the colon. These are referred to as “screening colonoscopies.”