An optical colonoscopy is a diagnostic procedure that allows the physician to examine the entire length of the large intestine through use of an endoscope, a long, flexible, lighted tube (also called a colonoscope) that is inserted through the rectum into the colon. In addition to allowing visualization of the internal colon, the colonoscope enables the physician to irrigate, suction, inject air, and access the bowel with surgical instruments. During an optical colonoscopy, the physician may remove tissue and/or polyps for further examination and possibly treat any problems that are discovered.
Other related procedures that may be used to assess problems of the colon include abdominal x-ray, computed tomography (CT scan) of the abdomen, abdominal ultrasound, barium enema, and sigmoidoscopy.
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