During a digital colorectal examination a physician inserts a gloved finger into the patient's anus to identify any abnormalities, states Healthline. During a colonoscopy, the doctor inserts a long flexible tube with a small camera into the rectum to identify issues such as polyps or cancer, according to Cleveland Clinic.
During a digital colorectal exam, the patient puts on a hospital gown and lies a position that allows the doctor to perform the exam, states Healthline. This can include placing the feet in stirrups, squatting or bending over the examination table. The doctor inserts a finger into the rectum and in some cases may press down on the patient's abdominal area. Typically, this type of exam lasts from a few seconds to a few minutes.
A colonoscopy requires the bowel to be completely empty of fecal matter, which allows the doctor to clearly see the organ, according to Cleveland Clinic. During a colonoscopy, the patient wears a hospital gown and receives an intravenous line. The patient lays on his side and receives a sedative that results in a drowsy feeling. When the patient is comfortable, the doctor expands the colon with air and performs the exam. Typically, a colonoscopy lasts from 30 to 60 minutes. Following the procedure, the patient rests in a recovery room for a short period of time.