Colon Cancer & Colonoscopy

Surgical Associates of Marshall County offer colonoscopy examinations for colon cancer screening and prior to minimally invasive surgery in Albertville and Guntersville.

A colonoscopy is a diagnostic examination used to evaluate the wall of the large intestine or colon. The colonoscopy examination is commonly used to screen for colon cancer in individuals over the age of 50, but is also relied upon for the diagnosis of intestinal disorders.

A colonoscopy is often recommended to evaluate abnormalities when certain symptoms are present, such as:

  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Unexplained weight loss

Using colonoscopy, your general surgeon can see inflamed tissue, abnormal growths, or ulcers, and also detect early signs of cancer in the colon and rectum.

The Colonoscopy Procedure

The colonoscopy procedure is performed with the use of a colonoscope, a thin, flexible tube 5 to 6 feet in length with a small video camera attached to the front. It sends images from the inside of the colon to a video screen where your general surgeon can view the intestinal lining.

The colonoscope can be used to examine the entire colon. A different procedure, known as a sigmoidoscopy, uses a similar but shorter scope to examine only the rectum and the lower part of the colon.

Your general surgeon will provide you with detailed instructions on how to prepare for your colonoscopy several days prior to your procedure. The preparation is necessary to make sure that your colon is empty at the time of the exam and prevent your surgeon’s view from being obstructed.

You will need to consume a diet of clear liquids for one to two days before the procedure and drink a liquid that will help clean out any residual materials from your colon. Most people agree that the colon prep procedure is more difficult than the actual colonoscopy. We will give you tips and guidance to make the prep as comfortable as possible.

What to Expect During the Colonoscopy

During the exam, your general surgeon will have you lie on your left side with your knees drawn up toward your chest. You will be given a sedative to help you relax and pain medication to ease any discomfort. In some cases you may be given a short acting general anesthetic so you will sleep through the entire procedure.

Your surgeon will insert the colonoscope through your anus and gently advance it until it reaches the lower part of the small intestine. He or she may ask you to occasionally shift your position to help with the advancement of the scope.

Air will be gently blown into the intestine through the scope to enhance visibility of the intestines. Tissue samples may be taken during the procedure or small polyps may be removed if they are found.

Because of the sedative administered during a colonoscopy, most patients do not remember the procedure at all.