Colonoscopy is performed after a complete diagnostic work-up and therapeutic plan have failed to resolve problems linked to the lower intestine. To perform colonoscopy, the patient is anesthetized and a flexible fiberoptic endoscope is passed into the colon. Air, passed through the scope, increases the view within the colon. Biopsies can be obtained by passing an instrument through an opening in the scope. Colonoscopy provides a valuable, non-surgical means to diagnose large bowel disorders. To perform colonoscopy, it is important that the colon be clean of fecal matter so that the surface of the colon can be visualized. This often requires withholding food for 24 to 48 hours and giving your pet a solution to drink which "cleanses" the colon. Warm-water enemas may also be used to clear the colon. Most patients are discharged the same day of the procedure.
The major symptoms and reasons to perform a colonoscopy are:
- Chronic diarrhea
- Blood in the stool (persistent hematochezia)
- Study of a growth in the colon or rectum
- Straining during defecation (persistent tenesmus)
- Excessive mucus in the stool
- Stools of significantly decreased or narrowed size