A colonoscopy is a nonsurgical outpatient procedure that uses a colonoscope to view the lower GI tract including the large intestine, or colon, and the rectum.
A colonoscope is a long, thin tube equipped with a light and a viewing instrument that sends images to a monitor. A colonoscopy is most frequently used as a screening tool for colon polyps or colon cancer. A gastroenterologist may also perform a colonoscopy to identify digestive or inflammatory disease.
Colonoscopy is helpful in determining the cause of abdominal pain, bleeding, weight loss, or changes in bowel habits. It can also be used to obtain a biopsy of abnormal tissue, treat bleeding, and remove polyps.
Screening colonoscopy should begin at age 50 for most people and follow up every 10 years. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer, a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease, or other risk factors, you will need to begin screening sooner and follow up more frequently as advised by your doctor.
Quality Measures for Colonoscopy
One very important quality measure for colonoscopy is called adenoma detection rate, or ADR. A physician’s ADR rate measures the percentage of finding precancerous adenomas during a colonoscopy. The national benchmark of ADR is 30% in men and 20% in women. The ADR rates for Austin Gastro physicians are significantly higher than the national benchmarks.
Another very important quality measure to consider is a group’s complication rate, which refers to perforations or bleeds that require a hospital visit. In 2016, Austin Gastro’s total complication rate for colonoscopies was .06%, as compared to the national average of 1.6% according to a 2016 study by the Yale Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation.
This means that Austin Gastro physicians have a higher chance of finding precancerous polyps and lesions before they have a chance to develop into cancer – and you have a lower chance of complications.
How to Prepare for Colonoscopy
You will need to undergo bowel prep to empty your colon prior to the procedure. Your doctor will provide you with specific instructions. Your doctor will also let you know if or when you should adjust or stop any medications you take. Because you will be sedated, you will need someone to drive you home after the procedure. Learn more about colonoscopy prep.
What to Expect
You will lie on your left side with your knees bent for the procedure and receive pain-relieving medication and sedation through an IV line to relax you and make you feel drowsy.
Your doctor will insert the scope through your anus into your rectum and colon. Air is pumped through the scope to inflate the colon so it is easier to see. A small camera mounted on the endoscope transmits live images to a video monitor. You may need to change positions during the procedure so the scope can be adjusted for better viewing.
Special instruments may be inserted through the scope to obtain tissue samples or remove abnormal growths.
A colonoscopy typically takes 30-60 minutes. After the procedure, you will be taken to the recovery room while the sedative wears off. You may experience temporary discomfort, such as mild cramping, bloating, or nausea. It is common to pass gas during and after a colonoscopy. Your doctor will discuss any unexpected side effects that may occur and a plan to address them.
Your doctor will review the results of your colonoscopy with you after your procedure or during a follow-up appointment. It may take time to receive biopsy results. If polyps or other abnormal tissues are found, the doctor will discuss treatment options with you.
“The entire staff was pleasant, professional and efficient. I was so nervous and everyone, from the check-in staff to nurses and techs to the anesthesiologist and finally Dr Reddy simply made the whole experience so comfortable. Highly recommend these fine folks.”Read Testimonials