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What happens if my colonoscopy shows an abnormality?

If your colonoscopy shows an abnormality, and your doctor thinks an area needs further evaluation, he or she might pass an instrument through the colonoscope to obtain a biopsy (a small sample of the colon lining) to be analyzed. Biopsies are used to identify many conditions, and your doctor will often take a biopsy even if he or she doesn't suspect cancer.
 
If colonoscopy is being performed to identify sites of bleeding, your doctor might control the bleeding through the colonoscope by injecting medications or by cauterization (sealing off bleeding vessels with heat treatment) or by use of small clips. Your doctor might also find polyps during colonoscopy, and he or she will most likely remove them during the examination. These procedures don't usually cause any pain.
If an abnormality is found during a colonoscopy and if your doctor thinks an area of the bowel needs to be evaluated in greater detail, a forceps instrument is passed through the colonoscope to obtain a biopsy. This specimen is submitted to the pathology laboratory for analysis. Biopsies are taken for many reasons and not necessarily because cancer is suspected. If the colonoscopy is being performed to identify sites of bleeding, the areas of bleeding may be controlled through the colonoscope by injecting certain medications or by sealing off bleeding vessels with heat treatment. If polyps are found, they are generally removed if safe. Generally, these procedures are not painful.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.