Colonoscopy to Diagnose Colorectal Disease at Mercy in Baltimore


This 3D animation describes colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy, procedures used to view the mucosal lining of the lower gastrointestinal tract.

The doctors of The Institute for Digestive Health & Liver Disease at Mercy specialize in diseases of the colon. To help diagnose colon diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, collagenous colitis, and lymphocytic colitis, as well as colon polyps and hemorrhoids, our doctors may perform a colonoscopy. Colonoscopies are performed in our state-of-the-art, dedicated endoscopy suite.

What is a Colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is an outpatient procedure during which the colon and rectum are examined from the inside. A colonoscopy helps to find ulcers and tumors so they can be removed. In addition, a colorectal cancer screening can be conducted using a colonoscopy.

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How does a Colonoscopy work?

A colonoscopy is performed with a thin tube, called a colonoscope, which has a light and camera at its tip. The colonoscope is inserted into the anus and guided through the colon. As the colonoscopy takes place, the camera transmits images of the inside of the colon to a monitor. During the colonoscopy, tissue samples can be collected for a biopsy and abnormal tissue growth, such as colon polyps, can be removed. 

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When is a Colonoscopy recommended?

The American Cancer Society now recommends most people begin regular colon cancer screenings at age 45. Please check with your insurance company on coverage for initial screening age.

A colonoscopy is one of several tools to assist with colon cancer screening. 

Your doctor may recommend screening at an earlier age if:

  • You have a family history of colorectal cancer or certain types of polyps or colorectal cancer syndromes , or 
  • You have a personal history of:
    • Colorectal cancer
    • Certain polyps
    • Inflammatory bowel disease 
    • Radiation to the abdomen/pelvic area, or  
  • You begin to develop symptoms such as:
    • Abdominal pain
    • Rectal bleeding
    • Changes in bowel habits

A colonoscopy, which takes approximately 30–60 minutes, generally is tolerated with minimal discomfort and can be a life-saving diagnostic tool.

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How do I schedule a Colonoscopy?

Mercy offers direct access colonoscopies. You can quickly and easily schedule a colonoscopy at Mercy's Downtown campus, in our state-of-the-art endoscopic suite.

Please call 410-332-9356 and select option 3 and then option 1. Most patients do not need to schedule an office visit prior to a colonoscopy.

You will need to schedule an office visit prior to your colonoscopy if any of the following apply to you:

  • You are oxygen dependent
  • You are under the care of a cardiologist and your condition is not considered stable
  • You are currently on dialysis
  • You currently take blood thinner medications including Plavix, Coumadin or aspirin

A colonoscopy may not be recommended for certain patients. Please call your doctor to determine the best screening options if you have:

  • Severe or acute diverticulitis
  • An active GI disorder or symptoms
  • A condition requiring advanced endoscopic procedures
  • An unstable condition or acute bleeding condition
NEXT: Patient Stories ›
Patient Stories
Barbara - Mercy Patient


After feeling ill on New Years Eve, Barbara had a screening that revealed a cancerous tumor in her colon.