The majority of individuals are aware of the benefits of a colonoscopy for early colon cancer and pre-cancerous polyp detection; however, many are hesitant to move forward with the procedure due to a dislike of either the preparatory process or an element of embarrassment. However, a colonoscopy is, and always has been, the best procedure for evaluation of the large intestine or colon to screen for colon cancer. The team at Gastroenterology Associates understands the concerns and apprehension patients experience in regards to this procedure, and they take the extra steps necessary to put their patients completely at ease. First, they utilize the easiest, best tolerated prep on the market today and tailor the prep for each individual patient. Second, they are affiliated with the best AAAHC accredited Ambulatory Health Care Centers in the Los Angeles area, all of which, give our patients the discreet personalized care they deserve.
We believe our patients deserve the best, and when you see an AAAHC certificate of accreditation, it means that the organization has closely examined our affiliated facilities and procedure practices. Also, our gastroenterologists have one of the highest polyp detection rates and one of the lowest complication rates in the Los Angeles area.
Our Gastroenterologists never rush a colonoscopy procedure. They take the extra time to carefully and thoroughly examine your colon for any possible polyps or other medical concerns. They will sit with you and personally review the results of your colonoscopy. Our doctors want to make sure you completely understand the results, and, if necessary, any medical recommendations for further medical care will be made.
The procedure is described below:
The doctor inserts a long, flexible tube with a built-in camera into the rectum. The camera gives the doctor the ability to look at the entire colon and see the images on a computer screen. During this process the doctor may take a tissue sample (biopsy) or remove polyps. The procedure takes 20-40 minutes depending on the patient’s condition. It is an outpatient procedure which means it can be done in a hospital or outside surgery center and the patient is discharged the same day.
There is a wide variety of indications for colonoscopy, some of the most important are:
- Rectal bleeding
- Colon cancer screening: the American Cancer Society recommends that everybody at age 50 have a colonoscopy to screen for colon cancer. Based on the results, patients may have to return in 1, 3, or 5 years.
- Change in bowel movements (constant diarrhea or constipation) without any improvement after treatment
- Positive fecal occult blood test
- History of removing foreign objects
- Iron deficiency anemia
- Family or personal history of colon cancer or inflammatory bowel disease
- Abnormal findings as a result of diagnostic study
It is very important to clean out the large intestine before the procedure. This helps to ensure that all parts of the colon can be examined. If the proper steps are not taken prior to the colonoscopy and the doctors do not have proper visualization of the entire colon, the patient may have to return for repeat testing. It is recommended to fast for 12 hours prior to the procedure, but the patient may have water, plain tea and plain coffee. Patients should avoid solid food and red liquids in the last 12 hours leading up to the start of the fast. Patient will receive the instructions in the office or via mail. There are additional steps to take in preparation for the procedure and the doctor or staff will give you those in the office. This is usually a combination of oral liquid and 4 pills.
It is necessary to stop blood thinners 5 days before the procedure to reduce the risk of bleeding. Always talk to the prescribing physician prior to discontinuing any medications. Pre-screening is required for each patient prior to the procedure and includes: routine blood test, EKG, review of past medical history and the medications. If patient has had recent blood work and EKG in the last 6 months, there may not be a need to repeat the test.
Patients must sign the consent form on the day of the procedure and will then be given a gown to change into. When the patient is ready, an IV line will be inserted into the arm or hand. During the procedure the blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate will be monitored.
Patients will be sedated, which will allow the patient to be comfortable, relaxed and unaware of the procedure. Although the patient is not under general anesthesia, the nervous system is still under the influence of anesthetic medication so it is necessary to have someone to drive the patient home. Patients cannot leave on their own and may not leave via taxi.
Patients will lie on their left side bending their knees to their belly and the scope will is inserted into the rectum and guided to the colon. The doctor examines the colon and if there are any polyps, they will be removed. Some tissue sample will be taken as well, if necessary. After the procedure is complete, the patient will be transferred to the recovery room. There is possibility of feeling bloated or having gas/cramping. As with any procedure, there may be rare complications which may include: bleeding from the biopsy or polyp removal site, perforation (very rare) or bloating (it is very common and it goes away). If a patient experiences a complication or concern, they should contact us immediately. Our physicians are available at all times by email if concerns arise after your colonoscopy. Contact us immediately if any of these symptoms occur: severe continuous abdominal pain, nonstop vomiting, fever, firm and bloated abdomen, inability to pass gas, frequent bloody stool. Generally walking is helpful when patient feels bloated after procedure.
After the procedure the patient is advised to relax the remainder of the day. The results will be ready in 2 weeks and the doctor will review them with the patient.
Our center utilizes a multidisciplinary team approach to your healthcare, which means that patients benefit from the combined expertise of physicians who have the knowledge, perspective and experience to address all aspects of your complete gastroenterological care.
We offer the most advanced diagnostic techniques and treatments for a wide variety of gastroenterological conditions. We also offer a full range of diagnostic procedures, as well as medical, surgical and minimally invasive treatment options to meet the individual needs of patients with gastroenterological conditions of any kind. Contact us if you are experiencing gastrointestinal issues that have not yet been addressed by our physicians.