Symptom: Colonoscopy

    A colonoscopy is a procedure to look at the inside of the colon. The colon is the large intestine and the last part of the digestive system. The colon dries, processes, and eliminates the waste left after the small intestine has absorbed the nutrients in food. The colon is about 3 to 5 feet long. It travels from the lower right corner of the abdomen (where the small intestine ends) up to the liver, across the body to the spleen in the upper left corner and then down to form the rectum and anus. The doctor will use an instrument called the colonoscope to perform a colonoscopy. It is a long (about 3 feet), thin (about 1 inch), flexible fiberoptic camera that allows the doctor to visualize the entire colon. A doctor may order a colonoscopy to investigate many different diseases of the colon. Colonoscopy is best known for its use as a screening tool for the early detection of colorectal cancer.
  • Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States.
  • Colon cancer develops from growths within the wall of the intestine such as polyps or tumors.
  • These growths often take 5 to 10 years to develop and may not cause many symptoms.
  • A person may not have any symptoms of colon cancer, but having a close relative with the disease increases the risk for the disease compared to the general public.
  • Most people develop polyps after age 50, so the American College of Gastroenterology (the digestive specialists) recommends screening examinations every 5 years for early detection and removal of these cancer-causing growths after that age.
  • Colonoscopy is also used to investigate other diseases of the colon.
  • Colonoscopy may be used to find the place and cause of bleeding as well as to check areas for irritation or sores in the colon.
  • These colon problems can cause unexplained changes in bowel habits.
  • Pain, bloody diarrhea, and weight loss can be caused by inflammation of the bowel, which may be the result of Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis.
  • These inflammatory digestive diseases tend to occur in young adults and, if undetected, can produce chronic symptoms and increase the risk of colon cancer.
  • Colonoscopy is used when there is concern a disease of the colon may exist.
  • The doctor may recommend this test if other screening tests such as a manual rectal examination, a fecal occult blood test (a test that detects blood in the feces), or a barium enema (a test in which barium is used to make the colon visible on an X-ray) suggest that further information is needed to make a diagnosis.
  • A colonoscopy may be required when symptoms of digestive disease or other warning signs are present.
  • Rectal bleeding (which may appears as bright red, very dark, or black)
  • Pain in the lower abdomen
  • Changes in bowel habits
  • Non-dietary weight loss
  • A new test called Cologuard, a stool-based colorectal screening test that detects the presence of red blood cells and DNA mutations, may indicate the presence of certain kinds of abnormal growths that may be cancers such as colon cancer or precursors to cancer. If this test reveals the possibility of colon cancer, a colonoscopy may be necessary.
  • Only doctors who specialize in the study of digestive or rectal diseases, have special training in endoscopy, and are certified to perform colonoscopy qualify to perform this procedure.
  • The American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy suggests that a doctor perform at least 200 procedures to become technically competent at diagnostic colonoscopy.


  • From WebMD Digestive Disorders Resources
    • Fiber for Constipation
    • Is It Okay to Take a Stool Softener Every Day?
    • The Truth About Food Allergies
    Featured Centers
    • How Well Are You Living With AFib?
    • Could Stress Be Making Your MS Worse?
    • Ready to Stop Smoking?
    Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
    • Frequent Constipation?

    Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape Colonoscopy »Colonoscopy enables visual inspection of the entire large bowel from the distal rectum to the cecum. Read More on Medscape Reference »
    Featured Topics
    • MS Slideshow
    • Teeth Wrecking Habits
    • Childhood ADHD Facts
    • Pictures of Psoriasis
    • Adult ADHD Slideshow
    • RA in Pictures
    Topics Related to Colonoscopy
    • Clostridium Difficile (C. difficile, C. diff, Antibiotic Related Colitis)
    • Colitis
    • Colon Cancer
    • Crohn's Disease
    • Diverticulitis (Diverticulosis)
    • Endoscopy
    • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
    • Rectal Bleeding
    • Rectal Cancer
    • Ulcerative Colitis
    Digestive Disorders Topics
    • Constipation in Adults
    • Image Gallery: Diverticulitis
    • Abdominal Pain in Adults
    • Pancreatitis
    • Constipation in Children
    Vitamins Related To Colonoscopy
    • Senna
    Medical Dictionary
    or A-Z List webmd.ads2Consumer.defineAd({ targets:{pvid: window.s_pageview_id || '',art: '59313',pt: '4093',uri: 'subject%3Dcolonoscopysource%3Dem'},blockCodes: '_k51_k50_c2_', id: 'ads2-pos-113', pos: '113', sizes: [160, 600] }); #ContentPane23 { padding: 0; margin-left: 20px; } .hs_cols a, a:visited, a:active { color: #1f29ad; text-decoration: none } .hs_cols a:hover { color: #1f29ad; text-decoration: underline } #sp_ft_rdr h3 { color: #4f667e; font-size: 200%; font-family: Century Gothic, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif } #sp_ft_rdr h3 span { color: #6B87A3; font-family: Century Gothic, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif } #sp_ft_rdr { } Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
    • Feeding a Growing World
    • Allergy Relief
    • Lactose Intolerant?
    • IBS-C Symptoms?
    • COPD and Alpha-1
    • Care for Aortic Stenosis?
    • Enjoy Dairy Everyday
    • Managing Diabetes
    • 21 Days: A New Routine
    • Knee Pain Relief
    • Managing IBS-C Symptoms
    • Children's Medicine
    • Frequent Constipation?
    • Aortic Valve Stenosis?
    • Greater Food Accessibility
    First Aid & Emergencies | Topics A-Z | Picture Slideshows | Medications | Image Gallery | eTools | Medical Dictionary Definitions
    About Us | Privacy | Terms of Use | Advertising Policy | Site Map | Contact Us
    WebMD | Medscape Reference | Medscape | MedicineNet | RxList | BootsWebMD | Medscape France | Medscape Germany Ad Choices ©2015 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved.
    eMedicineHealth does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
    See Additional Information. webmd.ads2Consumer.defineAd({ targets:{pvid: window.s_pageview_id || '',art: '59313',pt: '4093',uri: 'subject%3Dcolonoscopysource%3Dem'},blockCodes: '_k51_k50_c2_', id: 'ads2-pos-901', pos: '901', sizes: [1,1] }); document.write('') document.write('') $.xLazyLoader({js: ['']}); function s_before_pv(){var dtcb=new Date().getTime();$.xLazyLoader({image: ['' + encodeURIComponent(document.location.href) + '&c9=' + encodeURIComponent(document.referrer) + '&c15=&cv=2.0&cj=1&cb='+dtcb]});} s_before_pv() webmd.ads2Consumer.display(); .continue{text-decoration:none!important;font-weight:700;white-space:nowrap} aljd928uqahndfhquihrweu8908sfj899HTTP/1.1 200 OK Content-Length: 60134 Content-Type: text/html X-Server-ID: Expires: Fri, 26 Jun 2015 18:25:47 GMT Cache-Control: max-age=0, no-cache Pragma: no-cache Date: Fri, 26 Jun 2015 18:25:47 GMT Connection: keep-alive Set-Cookie: ASPSESSIONIDCAQCQBDR=ALILLECCAHJPNGFEEAIJAIMG; path=/ Server: wws Colonoscopy: Learn Prep and Guidelines for the Procedure var s_account = "webmdcom"; var s_pagename = ""; var s_bu = "cns"; var s_siteclass = "od"; var s_site = "emedicinehealth"; var s_server_type = "MN"; var s_channel_health = "emh-digestive"; var s_refpath = "emh-digestive"; var s_server_number = "S27"; var s_asset = "59313"; var s_template_name = "emh/"; var s_channel = "4093"; var s_asset_class = "emss"; var s_asset_type = "content"; var s_articletype = "emss"; var s_pagenum = "1"; var s_pub = "emedicinehealth"; var s_user_group = "unregistered"; var center_id=4093;var omni_id='nl-hov_4093_gid';var hoverDomain=''; (function(){var gps=document.createElement("script");gps.type="text/javascript";gps.async = true;gps.src="";var gpse=document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0];gpse.parentNode.insertBefore(gps, gpse);})(); var bIsDFPAdTag=true; webmd.ads2.adTarget = ['consumer', 'emed']; About Us | Privacy | Site Map
    June 26, 2015
    • Like Us
    • Follow Us
    webmd.ads2Consumer.defineAd({ targets:{pvid: window.s_pageview_id || '',art: '59313',pt: '4093',uri: 'subject%3Dcolonoscopysource%3Dem'},blockCodes: '_k51_k50_c2_', id: 'ads2-pos-101', pos: '101', sizes: [[728, 90],[970, 90],[970, 250]] }); home > digestive disorders center > digestive disorders a-z list > colonoscopy article


    Medical Author: R Benjamin Saldana, DO Medical Editor: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP


    Health Services in

    Signs and Symptoms

    Orthopedics Health an online symptom search and symptom directory. Here you can find what is the symptom Colonoscopy and what does it mean, you can also check what illnesses and diseases this symptom relates to.