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JAMA Patient Page
March 16, 2011


JAMA. 2011;305(11):1154. doi:10.1001/jama.305.16.1154

Colonoscopy is an endoscopic (visualization of the inside of the body) diagnostic and therapeutic procedure that uses a colonoscope (a finger-thick flexible fiber-optic tube with a video camera and several channels for instruments, suction, and air). Colonoscopy is used for a direct assessment of the internal lining of the large intestine (large bowel) and to take a biopsy (removal of a small piece of tissue).

Tell a physician who is planning your colonoscopy if you

The large intestine must be completely free of stool. To achieve this, a clear-liquid diet is recommended for a day or two before colonoscopy. A laxative medication is used to clean the bowels the afternoon before and sometimes the morning of the procedure. Colonoscopy requires sedation, so it may be performed as an outpatient procedure only if an adult accompanies the patient.