The dreaded Colonoscopy (koh-luh-NAH-skuh-pee) – the procedure most folks want to avoid, but shouldn’t! A colonoscopy incorporates a small, lighted, flexible tube with a fibre-optic camera used to look inside your entire large intestine (if your surgeon is good!), from the lowest part, the rectum, all the way up through the colon to the lower end of the small intestine. Why you might ask? The purpose is to look for early signs of cancer in the colon and rectum as well as diagnose the causes of unexplained changes in bowel habits. Colonoscopy results puts eyes on inflamed tissue, abnormal growths, ulcers, and bleeding.
If you are 50 years of age, aside from planning your birthday party – schedule your colonoscopy! If you have a family history of colon cancer, schedule a colonoscopy at age 40! Although it isn’t a fun thing to have done, it is very important in detecting early cancer. Colorectal cancer is not rare and is one of the leading causes of cancer deaths.
After your first procedure, when do you have to endure the fun again? Well, that depends on the results! While every patient and case is different, a good rule of thumb is the average male or female with no family history of colorectal cancer and one who has had the procedure at age 40 or 50 with no problems, should have a follow-up every ten years. If you did have positive findings to any degree, a follow-up colonoscopy will most likely be recommended one (1) to five (5) years based on your risk level.
Before the procedure, you will be given pain medication and a mild sedative to keep you comfortable and to help you relax during the exam. Board Certified General Surgeon, Dr. Jerry Guanciale, will insert a long, flexible, lighted tube called a colonoscope (koh-LON-oh-skope) into your rectum and slowly guide it into your colon. The scope transmits an image of the inside of the colon, so the physician can carefully examine the lining of the colon. The scope bends, so Dr. Guanciale can move it around the curves of your colon. The scope also blows air into your colon, which inflates the colon to help him see better.
If anything abnormal is seen in your colon, like a polyp or inflamed tissue, Dr. Guanciale can remove all or part of it using tiny instruments passed through the scope. Polyps can be removed while the colonoscopy is being performed and then examined for signs of cancer by a pathologist. If there is bleeding in the colon, he can pass a laser, heater probe, or electrical probe, or can inject special medicines through the scope used to stop the bleeding.
The benefits outweigh the risks when it comes to colonoscopies. Two of the more serious risks include heavy bleeding from having a large polyp removed and tearing of the colon lining (rare if performed with experience!). Some people report abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, cramping or fatigue after a procedure. The fatigue is usually due to the after effects of the sedative and the liquid diet. Risk is higher in elderly patients or people with a history of diabetes, stroke or heart failure.
The colonoscopy procedure itself will not prevent cancer, but removal of found polyps will prevent or early detect cancers of the colon. Most, but not all, colon cancers originate with polyps, which is why a colonoscopy is so important.
Is it time for you to schedule? Consult with Dr. Jerry Guanciale – years of endoscopy experience! Most insurances accepted! General & Cosmetic Surgical Specialists of Arizona – 5300 Hwy 95, Suite A in Fort Mohave, AZ 86426. Phone: (928) 768-1616