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Anoscopy Is Nothing to Fear

written by: moonshadow•edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski•updated: 3/20/2015

The thought of a rectal exam is enough to make many people frantic, but a few simple questions can help reassure even the most fearful patient before an anoscopy. Here's what to expect from this minorly invasive examination.

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    What to Expect

    An anoscopy is the diagnostic testing procedure used for an exam when the doctor does not need to do a full colonscopy. The Not So Terrifying procedure is used to allow the doctor to examine the final two inches of the intestines at the end of the digestive system while screening for polyps, colorectal cancer or hemorrhoids.

    Though the thought of the exam may be terrifying, the test itself is generally painless and requires almost no special preparation. Generally, a doctor will order this test after a patient complains of painful bowel movements or hemorrhoids. The test is also used as a screening test for various forms of colorectal cancer.

    Once the doctor has determined that the procedure is necessary, the test can be completed the same day to help alleviate nervous tension at the thought of a rectal exam. In addition, the results are generally visible to the doctor during the testing and there is no need to await lab results. The only time results might not be immediately available would be if the doctor were taking samples of polyps for a biopsy.

    To prepare the examination, the patient may wish to empty his bladder and bowels. Then, the patient will be asked to disrobe and either lie on his left side on the exam table or stand, bending over the exam table.The anoscope, a thin and short hollow tube usually with a light on one end, is then lubricated and inserted. While the doctor is preparing to begin the inspection, he may ask the patient to bear down as though having a bowel movement in an attempt to make insertion easier.

    The light on the end of the scope allows the doctor to conduct a visual inspection of the area for tears, hemorrhoids or other signs of a medical problem. Because the anoscope is hollow, swabs or other small medical instruments may be used y sliding them through the tube, allowing the doctor to take samples without causing additional discomfort to the patient.

    Once the anoscope is fully inserted, the doctor begins withdrawing it slowly while conducting the visual inspection. Because the anoscopy only examines the very end of the colon, enemas and laxatives prior to the examination are not necessary

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    Why Do I Need This Test?

    The anoscopy is used primarily to look for signs of colorectal cancer or to identify trauma to the region. Additionally, some doctors may use an anoscope to make access to the area easier for the treatment of prolapsed hemorrhoids.

    The test is used for screening patients for inflammatory bowel disease and other damage to the lower colon. If a patient has polyps, this prcedure may be used to access the polyps sot aht the doctor can retrieve samples for a biopsy.

    Most patients experience mild discomfort during the test, but no pain. Once the test is over, patients may resume their normal lifestyle immediately. In the event that hemorrhoids are present during the test, the patient may experience some minor bleeding after the test.