Colonoscopy What is it All About?

Until comparatively lately diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the colon and rectum was difficult due to problems visualizing the colon. In the last 30 years great advances have been made. Many individuals are turned off from colonoscopy by stories of the old approach of evaluating the rectum and colon called a rigid sigmoidoscopy. This study allowed the visualisation of the very bottom of the colon and rectum. Although this operation was recognized as limited it was the only technique available for visual evaluation of the colon until the late 70’s.

Relatively recently and in the past 30 years and advance in technology led to fiber optics that allowed visualization of the entire colon and rectum. This study which has led to great advances is known as  colonoscopy video. This study is preformed by passing a small diameter scope the bottom and passing it around the entire colon allowing visualization of the entire inside of the colon. Lesions or abnormalities inside the colon can be biopsied or removed. This allows the doctor to make a rapid diagnosis of colon diseases as well as treat many conditions of the colon. Many conditions that stumped doctors for years are now readily diagnoses soon after the exam.

We use light sedation for the studt and most patients have no memory of the study at all. Patients are comfortasble throughout and as mentioned rarely remember the study at all The type of sedation used is called iv sedation and the patient is asleep for the majority of the exam but not to the depth of a  general anesthesic and some patient may have some recall portions of the exam although the majority remember nothing at all.

An important way colonoscopy reduces the risk of colon cancer is to find and remove colon polyps which are asymptomatic in  most people.} Polyps are small abnormal growths in the wall of the large bowel. Most are asymptomatic, meaning the patient and doctor cant ™ tell they are there until the study is preformed. Finding polyps is critical because we believe that colon cancers arise from these polyps after they have been present for many years. By taking out these polyps we can reduce the risk and the development of colon cancer. The best way to treat this malignancy or cancer is before it ever gets started and the procedure is safe and relatively simple to perform. Colonoscopy could go far to reduce the risk of the development of this common malignancy.

Indication for colonoscopy include the following, this is by no means a complete list.

Bright red rectal bleeding

Unexplained diarrhea

Chronic abdominal pain


Unexplained iron deficiency anemia

Follow up for history of polyps

Colon cancer history in the family

Anyone over the age of 50 without prior exam.

Any history of inflammatory bowel disease

If you fall into one of these categories consult with your personal physician and decide if this is something that is right for you. Be assured that this is a safe and simple procedure that can be preformed with minimal risk and discomfort and that may save your life. If is critical that any polyps be removed and that you continue to get colonoscopies until your colon is clear of all polyps and then continue with surveillance colonoscopies for life. With this practise we can decrease the risk and hopefully the incidence of colon cancer.

I encourage you to discuss this issue with your personal MD. If you live in the Cushing area we are happy to see you and discuss your personal issues with you. Be sure to discuss this issue with your physician and seek appropriate referral for a colonoscopy.

All the best and get your colonoscopy to help ensure your long and healthy life.

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