Colonoscopy is advisable whenever signs such as persistent diarrhoea, constipation or blood in the stool indicate the possible presence of bowel disease. This examination can detect potential causes of the symptoms (e.g. inflammation or a malignant tumour) and permits removal of any polyps that may be found.
Colonoscopy in Düsseldorf
Colonoscopy entails examination of the whole length of the large intestine and sometimes the lower segment of the small intestine with a flexible instrument called an endoscope. The procedure usually takes 15–45 minutes to complete.
Gentle colonoscopy with carbon dioxide (C02)
We now use the medical gas carbon dioxide (CO2) for all colonoscopies instead of air. For colonoscopy to be effective, the bowel has to be inflated to allow accurate assessment of the walls and interior of the organ. This was previously achieved by pumping air through the endoscope. However, patients then often suffered painful spasms and unpleasant flatulence.
The advantage of using CO2 rather than air is that CO2 is absorbed through the wall of the bowel around 150 times faster than air and soon leaves the body by being breathed out. The absence of gas in the bowel prevents the flatulence and abdominal spasms that occur when air is employed. The use of CO2 for this purpose has been investigated in numerous international studies and has proven safe and effective.
Preparation for colonoscopy
A visit several days before the colonoscopy itself is essential for a discussion of why the examination is necessary, how it takes place, and what complications may arise. Everything the patient needs to do before the colonoscopy is described in detail in a leaflet.
Immediately before the colonoscopy, the patient can choose to receive a sedative or an injection of short-acting general anaesthetic and will then not feel the examination at all.
After the colonoscopy, a patient who opted for sedation or anaesthesia must be accompanied by someone else on the journey home. The law does not permit a sedated patient to leave the practice alone.
Colonoscopy can prevent bowel cancer
Bowel cancer is avoidable! Therefore, even those who are completely free of symptoms should undergo colonoscopy at or soon after the age of 50 years as a cancer screening measure to exclude the presence of polyps, which are often precursors of bowel cancer. Should any polyps be found, they can be removed during the procedure, thus preventing the development of cancer.
If there has already been bowel cancer in the family, it may be advisable to carry out colonoscopy before the age of 50.