When beginning the process of preparing for a colonoscopy, there may be a few questions you will want to ask. Naturally, our colorectal surgeons and GI doctors, who perform these colon cancer screening tests, have answers. (This article inspired by a New York Times article.)

1. Are there risks of complications during a colonoscopy?

There are a few risks when it comes to complications during surgery. The main complication that may occur is perforation, which is creating a hole in the colon. If this occurs, it requires surgical repair and is more than likely going to be an emergency procedure. This type of complication during the procedure could happen either when the colonoscope is being inserted into the colon, from the instrument’s side hurting the lower colon, or during the actual polyp removal process. The risk factor during a colonoscopy is higher in patients with weaker colons due to past radiation treatments or other factors that may have weakened the colon.

If you are a patient with a weaker colon, one way to reduce the risk would be to ask your doctor to use a pediatric colonoscope. The difference between these and regular colonoscopies is that pediatric colonoscopies are thinner and also have flexibility. As with patients with normal colons, the chances of rupturing the colon is very uncommon.

2. Should I stop taking any medications before my appointment?

There are certain factors that play into the use of certain medications before a colonoscopy. Some of these factors include:

  • The type of medication
  • Why the medication is being taken
  • The length of time the medication has been used on a daily or continued basis

Another reason a medication may have to be stopped before a colonoscopy depends on the type of procedure done for the colonoscopy. Medications that are taken daily and are pertinent to a particular health condition most likely will not be prohibited before a colonoscopy.

3. Will an anesthesiologist be putting me under sedation?

This question can only be answered based on the doctor used for the procedure. At the Colonoscopy Center of Excellence, our doctors love to have our staff anesthesiologists administer the sedative. It makes the procedure faster and allows patients to leave the recovery area quicker. Not to mention, it’s much, much safer.

4. Is there a chance the doctor might miss a polyp?

In general, some doctors are better than others, even when it comes to colonoscopies. When getting this procedure it is important to understand that the doctor responsible may miss a polyp. When preparing for a colonoscopy it is important to research the doctor who will be performing the procedure and find out if they have high success rate for this procedure.

At the Colonoscopy Center of Excellence, we perform an innovative procedure that allows our doctors to see more colon polyps than ever before. It’s known as a Third Eye® colonoscopy. Thanks to the revolutionary Third Eye® Retroscope, our physicians can view both forward and backward during a colonoscopy. This allows us to see behind the folds in the large intestine and find polyps that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to see.

5. Is it possible to have a colonoscopy without being sedated?

Yes. If this is the route that you are choosing to go then research must be done with a very knowledgeable and skilled doctor to create ease in the procedure. There are advantages to having a colonoscopy done without sedation. The patient can watch the procedure done on themselves and also get up and leave the appointment without restrictions. Although there are advantages to having the procedure done without sedation the percentage of patients who choose this option is very low.

One technique used to create a more comfortable colonoscopy without sedation is a water immersion technique. With this process, the doctor will fill the colon with water, to insert the instrument used in the procedure. What the water will do is stretch the colon less than the air to create more comfort in the procedure.

6. How do I know when to schedule my next colonoscopy?

Scheduling your second colonoscopy will depend on the results of the initial colonoscopy. The factors that will determine when the second colonoscopy is scheduled include:

  • If there were polyps found, how many were found
  • The type of polyp that was found (benign or cancerous)
  • Your family history

If none of these factors occur and your doctor schedules your colonoscopies at very short intervals, it may be a sign that the doctor used may be unsure of the procedure they have performed.

7. How will I know if my doctor follows the proper guidelines?

One way to prepare for a proper colonoscopy is to make sure to follow the doctor’s guidelines for preparing your body for the procedure. Three ways to make sure that you will have a careful examination are:

  1. Make sure your colon is properly cleansed.
  2. Ask your doctor for his personal adenoma detection rate.
  3. Ask your doctor for a copy of the report from your colonoscopy with the pictures taken.

Asking your doctor for permanent verification of the surgery is a good way to make sure that the procedure is done in a careful and professional way.

8. Was my colonoscopy performed by standard guidelines?

The reason that you may have to worry about a particular procedure may not be done under standard guidelines because the United States is not a nationalized healthcare system. What this means is that the quality of healthcare and procedures done depend on the individual practitioners doing the particular surgery. There are set of rules and guidelines when it comes to colonoscopy procedures, but there is no system for monitoring and penalizing doctors for not following them. Therefore as a patient it is important to do proper research on the doctor before your colonoscopy. There are many doctors and practitioners that deliver high quality work with the utmost qualifications and capability, but it is important as an individual patient to do the proper research before getting a procedure done.

The good news is that the Colonoscopy Center of Excellence is composed of some of the finest colorectal surgeons and gastroenterologists in the country. Our physicians are fellowship trained – which is a level of training beyond where most physicians go after medical school, interning, and residency – and have extensive experience performing colonoscopies. You can trust that your colonoscopy will be handled expertly.

9. Why is effective preparation important before my colonoscopy?

When getting a colonoscopy, a camera is inserted into the colon. If there is fecal matter and debris in the colon, the camera cannot see the inside of the colon and a polyp may be missed during the colonoscopy. If the colon is not properly cleaned, the procedure may take longer or have to be stopped altogether and made up at a later date. This makes the colonoscopy prep extremely important to the procedure. The good news is that your doctor will provide detailed instructions for you to follow before a colonoscopy. If your doctor does not provide you with detailed instructions, you should probably schedule your colonoscopy appointment elsewhere.

10. How do I make sure I have an effective bowel preparation?

One way to ensure effective bowel preparation is to get instructions that are easily accessible from the doctor or unit that will be working with you on the day of your surgery. Reading through the instructions a few times before the actual preparation date will give you time make sure you have all the materials you need when the actual preparation begins. Also make sure to reschedule any priorities that may interfere with the preparation.

Find Out More on Colonoscopy Preparation

If you would like to schedule a traditional colonoscopy, or if you’re concerned about your colorectal health, don’t hesitate to contact the GI team at the Colonoscopy Center of Excellence at La Peer by calling (888) 837-0459.