Anoscopy is a diagnostic procedure that helps examine the inner lining of the anus and rectum using a lubricated tube called an anoscope.
Gastroenterologists perform this procedure to detect abnormalities such as hemorrhoids, fissures, inflammation, and abnormal growths in the anus and rectum. If you experience bleeding, itching, or swelling in the area of the anus, you may need an anoscopy to determine the cause of your symptoms and receive the appropriate treatment.
Why would I need an anoscopy?
This procedure can be used to inspect the rectum lining to diagnose conditions such as:
- Anal fissures. Small tears in the anus lining that cause painful and bloody bowel movements. Chronic anal fissures or tears may indicate an underlying disorder.
- Anal polyps. Abnormal growths that develop within the rectum’s lining. If they go untreated, they can develop into colon or rectal cancer.
- Hemorrhoids. Bulging veins found around your anus and rectum. They can be found inside the anus or on the skin surrounding it.
- Cancer. Anoscopy is frequently performed to search for aberrant cells that indicate cancer of the anus or rectum.
- Inflammation. An anoscopy can help determine the source of unusual redness, swelling, and discomfort around the anus.
What to expect before the procedure?
During your consultation, the gastroenterologist will review your medical history, ask about your symptoms and determine the diagnostic test required to identify their cause.
Before an anoscopy, you should empty your bladder to make the procedure more comfortable. The physician may give you a laxative or an enema to prepare you for the treatment. They will also inform you of any specific instructions you need to follow before the test.
What to expect during the procedure?
An anoscopy is a painless procedure that takes between 15 and 30 minutes to complete. The doctor will start by performing a rectal exam, which involves gently pressing a gloved, lubricated finger into your anus to look for signs of damage or anomalies. They will then insert an anoscope to examine the anal canal and rectum.
If the doctor suspects abnormal cells or anal cancer, they may perform a high-resolution anoscopy.
During a high-resolution anoscopy, the doctor inserts a swab coated with acetic acid through the anoscope and into the anus. Abnormal cells will turn white as a result of the acetic acid on the swab. If the doctor notices any aabnormal cells, they may take a tissue sample from the anal canal for laboratory testing.
You may experience discomfort or pressure during the procedure. You may also feel like you are going to have a bowel movement, but this is normal and temporary.
What to expect after the procedure?
Following the procedure, you may experience minor soreness. The anus may take a few days to heal if you have a biopsy taken. It’s possible that you will experience some discomfort, especially after a bowel movement, which can be managed with over-the-counter pain medications. The doctor will recommend taking fiber supplements, drinking enough fluids, and eating high-fiber foods to avoid constipation.
If your results indicated an issue with your anus or rectum, including hemorrhoids, anal fissures, anal polyps, infections, or cancer. The doctor will create a specific treatment plan based on the diagnosis, which could include close observation, applying medication to the affected area, or ablation (the process of destroying aberrant tissue with heat).
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