Colonoscopy Alternatives

What is Colonoscopy?

Colonoscopy is a test in which doctors check the changes such as −

  • Swollen tissues

  • Polyps

  • Cancer

  • Irritated tissues

All the things are tested in the large intestine. A long tube known as Colonoscope is inserted into the rectum. The tube consists of a video camera at the tip which doctors use to check the colon. The tube can be used to remove polyps or abnormal tissues in this process. Doctors can also take samples of tissues

Cost of Colonoscopy

The cost of a colonoscopy depends on whether it is to be done with or without sedation. The cost starts from around INR 3,000.

Why Colonoscopy Alternatives?

There are a few disadvantages of this process mentioned below −

  • If the results are abnormal, the test has to be done again

  • It may cause an allergic reaction

  • Removal of polyp can cause complications

  • Intestinal perforation can be fatal

  • People may face stomach ache

  • Blood may come while passing stool

How to choose a Colonoscopy Alternative?

Colonoscopy has many benefits and these should be available with the alternative that you choose: These benefits are as follows −

  • Chances of colon perforation are low

  • A flexible rectal tube with a video camera at the tip is used

  • Detailed images of colon

  • Entire colon can be tested and examined

  • Polyps can be easily removed

Top 6 Colonoscopy Alternatives

Colonoscopy has many alternatives and we will discuss some of them here in detail.

Alternative 1 – Double Contrast Barium Enema

This is a procedure in which a tube is used that is inserted into the rectum gently. A silver metallic liquid is put through the tube into the colon. Doctors can use X-Ray to examine the colon and rectum. The test is done to check whether there are any abnormalities.


  • Cheaper than colonoscopy

  • Abnormalities can be easily found

  • No sedation is required


  • Patients will be exposed to radiation from X-Rays

  • Colonoscopy is needed if polyps are found

  • Some people may have uncomfortable feeling

  • May or may not be able to detect cancer

Alternative 2 – Sigmoidoscopy

Sigmoidoscopy is a process which is conducted if a patient has bright red bleeding from the rectum or colon. In this process, doctors use a thin flexible tube that also consists of a video camera The tube is inserted through the rectum which examines a small portion of the colon.


  • Sedation is not required

  • The test is completed within 15 minutes

  • Few risks in comparison to colonoscopy


  • It may be uncomfortable for some people

  • Entire colon cannot be checked

Alternative 3 – Fecal Immunochemical Testing

Fecal Immunochemical test is conducted to know whether there is any blood in the stool. If there is blood, it can be a sign that the patient may be suffering from colon cancer. This test can be easily performed at home. Patients need to collect their stool sample which has to be sent to the doctor. The doctor will check whether there are any abnormalities.


  • A stool sample can be taken at home

  • There is no need of bowel prep

  • Colon cancer can be detected at early stages


  • If blood is found, patients have to go for a colonoscopy

  • Entire colon cannot be checked

Alternative 4 – Fecal Occult Blood Test

Fecal Occult Blood Test is conducted to check whether there is blood in the intestine. Accurate results can be achieved through more than one fecal sample. The test is much similar to the fecal immunochemical test


  • The test can be conducted at home

  • The test is able to detect blood from the GI tract


  • The test requires multiple stool samples

  • Certain foods have to be avoided a few days before the test is to be conducted

  • The test is not 100% accurate

Alternative 5 – CT Colonography

CT Colonography is also known as Virtual Colonoscopy. Doctors use CT scan rather than a camera to conduct the test. CT scan is done for capturing different images of the colon. A big image is created by combining several images taken through the CT scan. The colon is inflated by inserting a tube into the colon.


  • The procedure is completed within 15 minutes

  • Sedation is not needed

  • Procedure is comfortable as colonoscope is not used


  • Pre-colon procedure is required before conducting the test

  • Small polyps cannot be found easily

  • Traditional colonoscopy is needed to remove polyps

Alternative 6 – Stool DNA Test

Stool DNA test is ideal for people who have crossed the age of 45 years. The test is conducted so that microscopic blood can be checked in the stool The test also checks for mutations and DNA changes. This blood may consist of cancerous tumors or precancerous polyps. A stool sample is collected for stool testing.


  • No bowel preparation required

  • No need to avoid any food or medicine prior to the test

  • Stool can be collected at home and sent to the lab


  • Less sensitive than colonoscopy

  • Additional tests are required if abnormalities are detected

  • The test may deliver false results


Colonoscopy is a test in which entire colon is checked through a tube having a video camera at the tip. The test can remove polyps and doctors can also get detailed images of colon. People may face stomachache and they can also see blood while passing stool. It may also cause allergic reactions. There are many alternatives to colonoscopy which are less expensive. The results of some of these alternatives may further lead to colonoscopy.

Updated on: 16-May-2023


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