Colonoscopy and Colon Polyps - Houston Colon – Division of Colon and Rectal Surgery

Colonoscopy and Colon Polyps

May 23, 2011

There comes a time when everyone needs to see their doctor to have a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy is an internal, outpatient procedure colorectal doctors use to exam the colon. A colonoscope, a small camera attached to a flexible tube around ½ inch in diameter, is used during this procedure to view the lining of the colon. This used to be a very uncomfortable, painful experience. Due to the advances in medical technology, this is no longer the case. Patients are given a sedative and pain killer and most do not experience any discomfort.

Colonoscopies are instrumental in Houston colon cancer screening for it allows for accurate diagnosis and treatment while keeping the patient comfortable. Most colon cancers start with abnormal growths that begin in the lining of the large intestine, or colon, and can go into the intestinal canal or lumen. These growths are called polyps. The shape of a polyp can be either flat or others have a stalk. Polyps occur within 15-20% of the adult population, making them one of the most common conditions that affects the rectal area. While most polyps are found to be benign, a relationship between certain polyps and cancer has been well established. Knowing whether or not you have colon polyps is impossible without a colonoscopy or a bowel x-ray because of the complete lack of symptoms. In rare cases, however, some polyps have been found to bleed, discharge mucous, cause alteration in bowel function and cause abdominal pain. Even though the colon can be examined through a barium enema x-ray, colonoscopy remains the more accurate, preferred method of detecting colon polyps.

No fool-proof way exists of knowing whether or not a polyp will become malignant. Because of this colorectal doctors advise the complete removal of all polyps. This can usually be accomplished by snaring them in a wire loop that is attached to the colonoscopy tube. Large polyps, however, can require repeat treatments for total removal or surgery because of their position or size.

Recurrence of a polyp once it is removed is not likely, though it can happen, for the same factors that caused the polyp to develop still exist. For patients that have had polyps previously, there is a 30% chance that they will develop new polyps. Regular exams by a physician specifically trained in colorectal diseases are incredibly important for detecting any new growths.