What is a colonoscopy screening exam?
A colonoscopy exam is the most sensitive and accurate test for detecting small polyps, called adenomas, which can, over time, develop into colon cancer.
Why does everyone need to get a colonoscopy?
Early detection and removal of polyps has been proven to prevent colorectal cancer by over 90 percent!
When do I need to get one?
For people with no specific risk factors, colonoscopies are recommended by the age of 50. African Americans are advised to start screening at age 45. Earlier screening is advised for people with symptoms such as rectal bleeding, or who have particular risk factors. This includes people with: a personal history of adenomatous polyps, family history of colon polyps or colon cancer, or a family history of other cancers including breast, ovarian, or uterine cancer. It also includes people with a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis, or Crohn’s disease, or other uncommon inherited conditions.
Preparing for the colonoscopy is NOT as bad as they say
In order to prep for your colonoscopy, you need to clean out your colon. If your colon isn’t empty, I cannot do as meticulous an exam. Most people begin the preparation when they get home from work, in the late afternoon or early evening, the day before the procedure.
We use any one of several preparations. Some involve mixing MiraLax powder (which is tasteless) into Gatorade; this will taste like Gatorade! I also suggest drinking a lot of clear chicken broth which also tastes good. All of the preparations involve drinking a substantial amount of liquid over a period of about 4 hours. Some people do better drinking the prep a little slower. It really helps to stay calm.
What should I expect on the day of the procedure?
The procedure is performed in my office. Unless you are the very first patient of the day, please call my office before leaving your home in order to verify that we are running on schedule.
The nurse will admit you. Women of childbearing age must give us a urine sample. The anesthesiologist will place an IV in your arm to administer anesthesia.
You will be asleep for the duration of the procedure. During the colonoscopy I will generally remove any polyps and take biopsies of abnormal areas.
The actual screening takes about 30-40 minutes. This is a little longer than average because I feel strongly about taking extra time to do the most meticulous and thorough examination possible.
After the procedure we will monitor you for about 15 minutes in the recovery room. You should be able to work the next day.
You should anticipate spending a total of 1-1/4 hours from the time you are admitted.
Important: You must have someone pick you up. You cannot drive for the rest of the day.