Colonoscopies can be performed by both a gastroenterologist and a colorectal physician. Should the results of your colonoscopy determine that additional treatment is required, a highly trained colorectal specialist is often the best provider of choice to provide that care. Early diagnosis and treatment by a colorectal expert could save your life.
Every TCRS specialist is certified by the American Board of Colon & Rectal Surgery (ASCRS), the premier society for surgeons specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of colon and rectal disorders. As board-certified surgeons, TCRS physicians not only have proficiency in the field of general surgery, but they’ve also completed the most advanced training in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and management of colon and rectal diseases and disorders.
Whether you have a family history or not, colorectal cancer screening is a proactive role in your own health care. Plus, colon cancer can be one of the most preventable types of cancer.
The answer to when is simple. If you have no family history, you should have a colonoscopy by the age of 50. If you have a family history of colorectal disease, the age to get screened is 10 years before your family member’s colorectal disease first occurred. For example, if a family member was diagnosed at 35 years old, you should schedule a colonoscopy at 25 years old. Certain high risk individuals should be screened by age 20, so be sure to consult your doctor.
As for the why, there are three main reasons to get a colonoscopy:
Screening Colonoscopy. Even if no symptoms are present, a colonoscopy is the best method for the early detection of polyps and colon cancer. It can also help identify other colorectal disorders and reduce the need for more complex treatment plans and procedures.
A major step towards the prevention of colon cancer is the removal of polyps found during a colonoscopy. Polyps are abnormal cells growing in the lining of the colon or rectum, and are a common condition affecting 15 to 20 percent of the adult population. Our colorectal specialists have a significantly higher rate of polyp discovery and removal than the national average.
Diagnostic Colonoscopy. When symptoms are present, a colonoscopy can also be used to confirm colorectal diseases or help our specialists understand the underlying cause of unexplained abdominal and rectal symptoms or irritable bowel syndrome. Diagnostic colonoscopies are also used to locate colorectal polyps and tumors, and test high-risk patients with a history of cancer.
Therapeutic Colonoscopy. When polyps are found and removed during a screening, the procedure becomes a therapeutic colonoscopy. At TCRS, this process, along with the treatment of other issues during the colonoscopy, is achieved using an advanced screening procedure known as a high-resolution colonoscopy.
High-Resolution Colonoscopy vs Virtual Colonoscopy
The reason TCRS colorectal physicians prefer to perform high-resolution colonoscopies (HRC) over virtual colonoscopies (VC) comes down to its ability to detect smaller polyps and other changes in the lining of the colon and allow for the removal of abnormal cells during the procedure.
While virtual colonoscopies require the same kind of prep before the procedure, the patient is not sedated. During the VC, a tube is inserted into the rectum to produce 2D and 3D images of the colon using a CAT Scan or MRI Scan. If any abnormal cells are detected during the virtual colonoscopy, the patient must still then undergo a second HRC procedure to remove them.
Most colonoscopies are outpatient procedures with minimal discomfort. Prior to your colonscopy, we will ask you to read and follow our preparation instructions. On the day of the procedure, we will administer a sedative, unless otherwise requested by the patient. If you choose to be sedated, you will need to arrange for someone to drive you home after the exam. We can provide a list of transportation services if needed.
During the procedure, your specialist uses a tubular instrument with a camera in it (colonscope) to diagnose problems, perform biopsies, and detect and remove most polyps without abdominal surgery. The removal of polyps is a major step towards preventing colorectal cancer.
If you want to learn more about colonoscopies, check out our TCRS video resource guide located here. Or you can take a look at the colonoscopy patient education video from the ASCRS here.
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