Colonoscopy in Ocean Springs, MS

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A colonoscopy is a medical procedure in which a long, flexible tube called a "scope" is inserted into the rectum and guided through the entire colon (large intestine). The scope has a light and camera on the end, allowing the doctor to view the colon's lining. This procedure is used to diagnose the causes of gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea, bleeding, abdominal pain, or unusual x-ray results.

A colonoscopy can also be performed on patients without symptoms starting at age 45 or earlier if there's a relevant medical history to screen for colon cancer and polyps. It is the only method available for colorectal cancer prevention. Board-certified gastroenterologists at Digestive Health Center specialize in digestive health and routinely conduct colonoscopy exams. Contact a local office to learn more.

What are the benefits of a colonoscopy?

Colonoscopy exams are the most dependable method to prevent colon cancer, which is why individuals over 45 or those at higher risk must undergo these screenings as advised by their physician. Regular colonoscopy screenings offer numerous benefits for your gastrointestinal and overall health. Here are some advantages of colonoscopy exams:

  • Serve as the most effective screening option for colon and/or rectal cancer
  • Detect and remove abnormal growths
  • Identify cases of diverticulosis, IBD, and other conditions
  • Can be a life-saving exam
  • Detect initial signs of colon and rectal cancer

Thanks to the latest technology, colorectal cancer screenings are now conducted more quickly, comfortably, and accurately than in the past.

Your doctor at Digestive Health Center will give you detailed instructions for bowel preparation before your exam. Most patients will need to be on a clear liquid diet the day before the procedure. You will be advised to take specific laxatives to completely clean the colon. It is crucial to follow your doctor's instructions closely. Additional instructions regarding your medications will be provided. Generally, you will continue taking your medications, but special guidelines will be given for patients on blood thinners (e.g., Coumadin, warfarin, Plavix, aspirin, anti-inflammatories) and diabetics. Patients should avoid eating or drinking after midnight except for their medications.

You should arrive at the Digestive Health Center endoscopy center 1 to 1.5 hours before your exam to complete paperwork and prepare. You will change into a medical gown, and an intravenous (IV) catheter will be placed in your arm for sedation. Monitors will be attached to track your heart rate, blood pressure, pulse, electrocardiogram, breathing, and oxygen levels during and after the procedure.

Once in the exam room, you will lie on your left side. IV sedation will be administered in small amounts to ensure your safety and achieve the necessary level of sedation. The doctor will perform a rectal exam before gently inserting the colonoscope into the rectum. The scope will be carefully advanced through the colon to the junction with the small bowel. Air will be introduced into the colon to enhance visibility. Any remaining fluid can be washed out and suctioned through the scope.

During the procedure, the doctor may perform biopsies, remove polyps, or control any bleeding found. At the end of the exam, as much air and remaining fluid as possible will be suctioned out of the colon through the scope. The procedure typically takes between 15 and 30 minutes, depending on the findings.

After your colonoscopy, you will be taken to the recovery room to be monitored while the sedation wears off. The amount of sedation used and your individual reaction to the medication will affect how quickly you awaken, but most patients are ready for discharge within 45 to 60 minutes.

You will not be allowed to drive for the rest of the day, so you must arrange for a ride home. You will also be advised not to work, sign important documents, or engage in strenuous activities for the remainder of the day. Most patients can eat and drink normally after being discharged from the Endoscopy unit, but specific instructions regarding activity, diet, and medications will be provided before you leave.

After the exam, the doctor or nurse will review the findings with you. Because of the sedation, most patients do not remember this discussion, so it is recommended to bring someone with you to hear the results. You will also receive a typed report to take home. Any biopsy results will typically be communicated to you within a week.

The alternatives to a colonoscopy depend on the reason for the exam. Generally, a colonoscopy is the best way to evaluate and treat colon abnormalities and is the only method for colorectal cancer prevention. However, there are different x-rays that can assess the colon, such as a barium enema and a virtual CT scan. These are purely diagnostic exams, meaning treatment for any abnormalities detected would still require a colonoscopy or surgery.

A colonoscopy is generally a very safe procedure, with complications occurring in less than 1% of patients. Most complications are not life-threatening, but some may require hospitalization and surgery. Before the procedure, the nursing staff will review a consent form with you, and any questions or concerns can be discussed with your physician.

Reactions to sedation medication can occur, including allergic reactions, difficulty breathing, effects on the heart and blood pressure, and irritation of the vein used to administer the medication.

Bleeding can occur when biopsies are taken or polyps are removed. Significant bleeding that necessitates a blood transfusion or hospitalization is rare, though bleeding can happen at the time of the exam or up to two weeks afterward if a polyp is removed.

Another potential risk is colon perforation or puncture. This might be detected during the exam or later in the day and typically requires surgery and hospitalization. However, this complication is rare, even with polyp removal.

Contact your doctor's office immediately if you experience symptoms such as worsening abdominal pain, bleeding, or fever after the procedure.

No test is perfect, and a colonoscopy carries a small risk that abnormalities, including polyps and cancers, may be missed. It is crucial to continue following up with your doctor at Digestive Health Center as instructed and to report any new or persistent symptoms.

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When is it time to schedule your colonoscopy?

It is recommended people who are at standard risk of developing colon cancer start getting a colon cancer exam when they turn 45 years old. In the event your risks for getting colon cancer are more than average or if you are showing distressing signs of colon cancer, our GI specialists might recommend colonoscopies earlier than the standard age of 45.

How many years apart is it recommended you have colonoscopies?

GI doctors advise getting colonoscopy screenings around every decade for individuals who are at general risk, are in favorable health, and have screening results that are normal. After your colonoscopy, your gastroenterologist will inform you how many years apart you need to have colonoscopy exams from there on out.

Will my colonoscopy be an uncomfortable process?

Sedation is administered prior to your colonoscopy to help ensure your comfort and relaxation while undergoing the procedure. Depending on the type of sedation given, many people experience an intensely mellow state and become drowsy, and many experience virtually no recollection of what happened. You can discuss with your gastroenterologist about what to expect at your consultation visit.

What’s the average recovery time for a colonoscopy exam?

Most of the time, you can expect around a full day to recuperate following a colonoscopy, and many people are well enough to start their daily routine the subsequent day. When colon polyps are removed, recovery will likely last about a week. It is common that you’ll notice some gastric symptoms following your colonoscopy exam, such as cramping and bloating. Our Digestive Health Center providers will go over more information about what to expect as you recover.

A colonoscopy is widely regarded as the most effective screening method. Unlike many other screening options, a colonoscopy serves as both a diagnostic and a preventive measure, allowing for a thorough examination of the entire colon and the removal of polyps during the same procedure. Other screening methods do not offer the ability to remove polyps; if polyps are detected, a colonoscopy will likely be necessary. You can schedule a colonoscopy at your local Digestive Health Center office. Regular colonoscopies have the potential to save lives. For more information on how to get a colonoscopy, contact Digestive Health Center today.

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