An Overview of Colonoscopy

Many people who should be screening regularly for problems of the colon avoid them for as long as possible. There are many perceptions about the discomfort and embarrassment that come from allowing a doctor to examine the colon area. Aside from the common fear of what negative things a doctor may find during this procedure, many people ignore medical advice to have a colonoscopy because they fear the unknown.
The procedure itself can be a bit intimidating. Typically, patients are asked to undergo a bowel cleanse that may consist of a liquid diet, laxatives, increased fluid intake or other medical remedies. As the procedure begins, they may experience a slight amount of initial discomfort. The doctor uses a flexible scope inserted into the colon to take a video of colon tissue.

Perhaps the biggest anxiety may come from knowing that in some cases, the colonoscopy itself will not be the conclusive test a doctor needs to perform to properly diagnose and treat their condition. It is widely trusted, but there are other screenings that can help an exam to be more conclusive if a doctor finds something abnormal during a colonoscopy. Sigmoidoscopy, for example, allows doctors to take a look at the lower part of the colon. It is done every five years instead of the 10-year period recommended for a colonoscopy. The frequency of sigmoidoscopy increases its effectiveness in finding polyps or cancer.

These tests can drive up the cost of the whole procedure, a factor which can increase anxiety if the patient has no solid insurance plan or has to pay a large deductible. Recent changes in healthcare law have reduced this anxiety for many patients. Still, there are some people who fall through the cracks.

The right side of the colon presents some challenges for doctors. Any polyps or cancer spots located here are harder to diagnose because they are pale in color and lie flat in the colon. This area includes the cecum, the cavity where the large intestine begins, and the ascending colon, which leads to the cecum. Any bowel cleansing a patient may have done to prepare for a colonoscopy may not always reach this area where the ascending colon and cecum are located. This makes it hard to detect abnormalities and difficult to remove them.

Dr. Russell Schub performs this procedure for his patients. Colonoscopy patients who want to learn more should read more about Dr. Schub’s practice here. They should also know there is a small risk of colon perforation or bleeding from the procedure. It does not happen often, but patients should know about the possibilities. For most, the reward of early detection is often worth that risk.

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