When it comes to important matters of the body involving your digestive tract, stomach, and colon, a gastroenterologist is a specialist and highly trained doctor to consult with.
GI doctors also assist patients with matters involving the pancreas, gallbladder, liver, and other organs involved in the elimination of waste.
To help answer some of your most popular questions, we’ve put together an extensive ‘FAQ’ article to share our most frequently asked questions about GI care.
This patient guide covers inquiries about our practice, procedural questions, and more.
We hope this information will help you understand better and prepare for your colonoscopy procedure. Get in touch with us if you have any other questions or concerns.
1. What is a Colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is an examination that enables your gastroenterologist to examine the lining of your colon (large intestine).
The GI inserts a colonoscope (a flexible tube with a camera at the tip) into the rectum and large intestine to carefully inspect the colon to look for signs of cancer or pre-cancerous lesions.
2. What is a Polyp?
During a colonoscopy procedure, a polyp may be detected by your gastroenterologist. Polyps are abnormal growths of tissue, which vary in size from 4cm to 5cm.
Because almost all colorectal cancers start as small polyps, the early detection and removal of these polyps during colonoscopy is an effective means to prevent colorectal cancer.
Polyps generally grow slowly, so a small precancerous polyp may take 10 to 15 years to turn into cancer.
3. What Happens if a Polyp is Found?
If the complex polyp is benign, with no signs of cancer present, then the patient may choose non-surgical removal instead of surgery.
If your gastroenterologist believes that removal of the polyp is needed, a wire loop or snare will be passed through the colonoscope.
This will sever the polyp from the intestinal wall via an electrical current, a procedure known as polypectomy.
4. How Often Should I Get a Colonoscopy?
Gastroenterologists usually recommend a colonoscopy when you turn 50, however, adults with a high risk and family history of colorectal cancer may need a colonoscopy at a younger age and more frequently.
It’s important to note that you will probably have other than your colonoscopy over the years, such as fecal occult blood tests, which can be a symptom of colon cancer.
5. Will the Colonoscopy be Painful?
Most patients do not experience pain and some don’t even remember their procedure, due to being sedated (you can choose to receive a sedative that makes you feel relaxed and drowsy.
Your gastroenterologist can discuss with you the best form of sedation to suit your needs.
Some patients do feel some cramping, but generally, their feedback is positive and easy-going. Patients usually find the prep more difficult.
6. Are Colonoscopies Safe?
Colonoscopies are generally regarded as very safe. However, as with any procedure, some risks can include:
- Persistent bleeding after biopsy or polyp removal
- Peritonitis (inflammation of the lining of the abdominal cavity)
- Perforation of the intestinal wall (rare)
- Nausea, vomiting, bloating, or rectal irritation caused by the bowel cleanse prep and/or procedure
- Adverse reaction to the sedative or pain medication
There may be other risks depending upon your specific medical condition. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your gastroenterologist before the procedure.
7. How Long Does the Procedure Take?
Patients are usually only with us for 2-3 hours, which also consists of pre-procedure steps to follow.
The entire procedure usually takes less than 30 minutes but can vary depending on several factors.
Once completed, the procedure requires patients to be monitored for a minimum of 30 minutes before discharge.
8. What Should I Expect After the Procedure?
Upon completion of your colonoscopy, your gastroenterologist will review the findings, provide follow-up care instructions, and gastroenterology treatment recommendations with you and your driver/care partner.
Your driver/care partner needs to realize that you may not remember anything in great detail due to the effects of the anesthesia.
- You may experience several minor effects including, but not limited to:
- You will be tired for the day and may feel confused or forgetful. This may last up to 12 hours after sedation.
- You may feel bloated and have gas pains and mild cramping.
- You will be thirsty and/or hungry.
- You may experience nausea or vomiting.
- You may notice a small amount of rectal bleeding
- You may not have a bowel movement for 48 hours after the procedure.
9. Is Colonoscopy the Best Way to Discover Colon Cancer?
Yes. Colonoscopy is the best way to discover and, in most cases, simultaneously remove potentially pre-malignant polyps.
It is still the gold standard for detecting colon cancer.
Screening for colon cancer works in two ways: first, by finding cancers early when treatment is most effective and second, by finding growths (polyps) inside the colon and removing them before they become cancer.
10. How to Prepare for a Colonoscopy
A clean colon is essential for the gastroenterologist to do an accurate examination for polyps or other abnormalities.
The most popular colonoscopy preparation method used involves drinking polyethylene glycol (PEG). It is odorless, tasteless, and is mixed with certain clear liquids.
PEG is to be drank along with other clear liquids the day before the scheduled procedure.
Your gastroenterologist will discuss with you your options and advise the best preparation method for you.
Here are 5 more ways you can prepare yourself for a colonoscopy
11. Will the Colonoscopy Prep Make Me Sick?
Colonoscopy prep is known to be inconvenient. Feelings of bloating, nausea, abdominal cramping, or chills are common but should decrease throughout the bowel preparation.
If you develop nausea or vomiting, stop the prep for a few minutes then resume the process.
DISCLAIMER: PLEASE READ CAREFULLY
The information on this website is to provide general guidance. In no way does any of the information provided reflect definitive medical advice and self-diagnoses should not be made based on information obtained online. It is important to consult a Gastroenterologist or medical doctor regarding ANY and ALL symptoms or signs including, but not limited to: abdominal pain, haemorrhoids or anal / rectal bleeding as it may a sign of a serious illness or condition. A thorough consultation and examination should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call a physician or call our office today and schedule a consultation.