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A colonoscopy allows a physician to examine the lining of the colon (large bowel) for abnormalities. A flexible tube is inserted through the rectum and slowly advanced through the colon as the physician checks for polyps and other abnormal structures. Generally, polyps are removed and sent for biopsy. Tissue samples of the colon lining may also be collected and sent for laboratory analysis.

The lining of the large intestine can be examined in a colonoscopy

Patients are usually required to follow a cleansing routine of the colon before the procedure to permit an accurate and complete viewing of the intestinal tract. A colonoscopy rarely causes pain, but patients may experience pressure, bloating or occassional cramping during and following the procedure.

Some minor bleeding may occur after a polypectomy, and the physician may recommend some restrictions on activities or diet.

The physician will explain the results of the colonoscopy to you following the procedure. Results of tissue analysis may take a few days.

If you have any questions about a colonoscopy, you should discuss your concerns with your doctor.