A colonoscopy is an examination of the entire colon (large intestine) using a long, thin, flexible tube (colonoscope) with a camera on the tip. The most common goal is an effort to prevent colon cancer. Without any screening colonoscopy, about one in twenty people will develop colon cancer.
A diagnostic colonoscopy is performed on a patient who has gastrointestinal symptoms (e.g. rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, diarrhea) or who has past and/or present polyps or gastrointestinal disease (e.g. Crohn’s Colitis, etc.).
If polyps are found during a screening colonoscopy, most insurance carriers re-categorize the screening colonoscopy as a diagnostic colonoscopy (and your screening benefit may no longer apply).
For more information on colonoscopies visit the National Institutes for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases’ Colonoscopy webpage.