How long does a colonoscopy take

From Lena Machetanz, doctor
All NetDoktor content is checked by medical journalists.

One of the standard methods of examining the bowel is that Colonoscopy. procedure and duration depend on the section of intestine to be examined. Some patients, especially children, are given anesthesia for the colonoscopy. Read here how a colonoscopy works and how long the examination takes.

Colonoscopy: anesthesia - yes or no?

As a rule, the colonoscopy is performed without anesthesia. Patients are given a sedative drug that the doctor gives through a vein if they so desire. Most patients feel no pain during the examination. Small children rarely tolerate the somewhat uncomfortable colonoscopy without anesthesia and are therefore given general anesthesia, during which they are artificially ventilated.

Procedure: colonoscopy of the large intestine (colonoscopy)

For the colonoscopy, the patient lies on his side on an examination table. The doctor smears a little lubricant on the colonoscope, a tube with a built-in camera, so that it can be more easily inserted into the patient's bowel. The tube is so flexible that it can easily follow the coils of the colon.

The doctor can bring some air into the intestine through the colonoscope. This dilates it a little and the mucous membrane unfolds. While the doctor pushes the colonoscope further into the colon, the camera transmits images of the intestinal mucosa to a monitor. The doctor can use these to see exactly whether the mucous membrane looks healthy or whether there are any areas that are suspicious of tumors. If necessary, he also takes a tissue sample via the colonoscope during the colonoscopy. He then carefully pulls the hose back and the examination is over.

How does a colonoscopy work (small intestine)?

The procedure of the small intestine endoscopy differs from the colonoscopy procedure: Since the doctor cannot insert an endoscope into the small intestine, only individual sections of the small intestine could be assessed for a long time. For several years, the so-called capsule endoscopy has therefore been the method of choice. To do this, the patient should swallow a small capsule. Despite its small size, it has a lot to offer: It contains a camera, a lamp and a transmitter.

The swallowed capsule travels through the entire digestive tract over the next eight hours, taking around 60,000 images. So that the doctor can also see the mucous membrane in the pictures, the patient is only allowed to drink clear liquids. Solid meals are only allowed again towards the end of the examination, as the capsule is then already in the colon. In the end, the capsule is simply passed out in the stool.

How long does a colonoscopy take?

Colon mirroring is a fairly simple standard exam that usually takes about half an hour. If the doctor takes one or more tissue samples or removes growths (polyps) immediately, the examination will take a little longer.

Capsule endoscopy, on the other hand, takes about eight hours, as long as it takes the capsule to pass through the entire digestive tract. However, the patient does not have to stay in the doctor's office or clinic during this time and only come back towards the end of the examination.

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