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What Conditions Can a Colonoscopy Detect?

September 16, 2022
Doctor Explaining Colonoscopy Image To Patient

Colonoscopies are crucial for diagnosing and detecting problems within the gastrointestinal and digestive systems. Patients that present with symptoms, including abdominal pain, cramping, bowel changes, and unexplained weight loss, will often be recommended for a colonoscopy to detect or rule out more serious health issues. Richmond University Medical Center in Staten Island, NY has G.I. and Endoscopy Suites that provide full-service ambulatory care for G.I. issues, including colonoscopies and endoscopies. Learn more about what conditions a colonoscopy can help identify below.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Colonoscopies are often used to detect inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), which cause chronic inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. During a colonoscopy, the physician uses a camera scope to see and examine the lining of the colon and note any inflammation, sores, or growths that may be caused by IBD. The two main types of IBD that can be diagnosed via a colonoscopy are:

Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease characterized by inflammation anywhere along the G.I. tract. Although it can involve any area of the digestive system, including the mouth and the anus, it is most frequently found at the beginning of the colon and the end of the small intestine. Sufferers often experience symptoms like cramping, diarrhea, unexplained weight loss, fatigue, and rectal bleeding. They can also have symptoms affecting the skin, eyes, liver, and more.

Crohn’s disease has no cure, but it can be managed with treatment. It’s necessary for patients with these symptoms to contact their doctor and schedule a colonoscopy because serious problems can result from leaving this condition untreated. If the colonoscopy and biopsy results show clusters of inflammatory cells, called granulomas, it can be indicative of Crohn’s disease.

Ulcerative Colitis

Another type of IBD that causes inflammation and ulcers on the lining of the colon is ulcerative colitis. This disease is attributed to an overactive immune system that attacks the body’s own tissue and has symptoms like cramping, an urgent need to use the bathroom, and loose stool. A colonoscopy can help locate sores and swelling and provide a diagnosis for these symptoms.

Receiving an early IBD diagnosis can allow patients to start treatment sooner and reduce further damage that these conditions can cause.

Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis

Colonoscopies can also help to detect diverticulosis, which is when small pouches form in the lining of the digestive system. These bulges aren’t often a cause for concern unless they get inflamed or infected. This condition is known as diverticulitis and can cause severe pain in the abdomen, nausea, bowel changes, and more. A colonoscopy can help the physician confirm the presence of diverticula and rule out other conditions.

Colon Polyps

Colon polyps are small clumps of cells that form on the lining of the colon or rectum, and they are another condition that can be detected by a colonoscopy. Usually, colon polyps are harmless and cause no symptoms. However, some polyps can turn into colon cancer and that is why routine screenings, like colonoscopies, are essential to identifying them and getting them removed.

Colon Cancer

Colon cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, is one of the more serious health issues that colonoscopies can help detect. It is always best to catch cancer in the early stages before it has spread to other areas, and colon cancer is no different. If your physician notices polyps or tissue they are concerned about, they will take a biopsy to confirm the results. Early detection and treatment of colon cancer can be lifesaving.

Schedule Your Colonoscopy at Richmond University Medical Center

Patients with digestive symptoms and those at higher risk for colon cancer should stay up-to-date on colonoscopies to screen for and detect digestive problems. Richmond University Medical Center provides G.I. and Endoscopy Suites in Staten Island, NY, with state-of-the-art procedure rooms to accommodate patients with full-service ambulatory care for G.I. issues. Contact the gastroenterology department at Richmond University Medical Center today to schedule a colonoscopy procedure.