What is Colonoscopy?
Colonoscopy is a procedure that allows proper visualization of the inside of the colon. The procedure may be unpleasant but it provides with important data regarding any change in mucous membrane of the colon. During the procedure the doctor examines the inside of the colon and may at the same time remove some growths such as intestinal polyps.
The colon must be well prepared (i.e. cleaned) prior the procedure. Only then a doctor can perfectly visualize the inner surface of the large intestine. This is why preparation for colonoscopy plays a significant role and must be conducted properly.
Preparation for Colonoscopy
There are several treatments to cleanse the bowel before colonoscopy procedure. They include enemas, suppositories, polyethylene glycol electrolyte solutions and sodium phosphate solutions.
An enema is a liquid that is pumped into the rectum through the anal opening. The injected solution stimulates bowel movement and helps in colon cleansing. In order to perform enema an enema kit is required. Once the enema is injected and a patient feels full the process of cleansing starts and after the bowel is emptied the entire process is repeated.
Suppositories are drugs that are inserted into the rectum, vagina or urethra. In case of preparation for colonoscopy the patient uses rectal suppositories. They act locally and stimulate the bowel movement. The effects are achieved approximately half an hour after the insertion. Such suppositories represent a combination of sodium bicarbonate and potassium bitartrate in polyethylene glycol base. They generate carbon dioxide and the effect of this gas as well as lubrication of the very suppository eventually leads to distension of the rectal ampulla and peristalsis. These medications do not cause irritation and cramping, are easily inserted and are much better than liquid enemas.
Polyethylene glycol (PEG) electrolyte solutions are commonly used in patients who will undergo colonoscopy. These solutions are taken orally. In hospitals polyethylene glycol electrolyte solutions may be administered via a nasogastric tube. Such solutions are highly effective and loosen stool and flush all solid material from the colon.
And finally, there are sodium phosphate solutions. They are Saline laxatives able to draw water into the bowel. In excess of water the stool becomes softer and is easily eliminated. Sodium phosphates solutions are much more effective than PEG solutions. They also cause less side effects (there may not be chills, bloating or abdominal fullness or if they are present they are not so intensive). However, sodium phosphate solutions must not be administered in patients suffering from bowel obstructions, congestive heart failure, kidney disease and congenital megacolon.