Charles E. McBride, M.D. 

What is a colonoscopy?

Colonoscopy is a procedure in which the lining of the colon is inspected with a flexible instrument called a colonoscope.  Dr. McBride can visualize the lining on a television monitor while you are comfortably sedated, and can use the finding of the procedure to help with diagnosis and treatment of a number of diseases afflicting the colon.

Today, the most common indication for a colonoscopy is screening for colorectal cancer. Colon cancer is now the second leading cancer killer in the United States and is preventable with a colonoscopy examination. Colon cancer begins in a benign lesion called a polyp, which is a mushroom-like, or sometimes flat, growth.  Colon cancer may develop within certain types of polyps called adenomas.  During the colonoscopy, your physician will carefully inspect
the entire lining of the colon, looking for polyps, and remove the polyps at the time of the procedure.  Studies have shown that patients who undergo a colonoscopy are 90% less likely to die of colorectal cancer.  Not all polyps are adenomas, but all polyps are removed at the time of the procedure, as it is not possible to differentiate polyps visually (the polyp must be analyzed under a microscope to determine its type).  If a person is found to have an adenomas
polyp, it is recommended that they return for more frequent colonoscopies than the standard screening intervals (3-5 years if you have a family history of colon cancer or polyps).  On the day prior to your colonoscopy, it is required that you begin a clear liquid diet, will then need to take either a pill preparation or a liquid preparation to cleanse the colon of its contents (see “preparing for a colonoscopy”).  On the morning of the procedure, an IV is inserted at the endoscopy center, and you will be given anesthesia to make the procedure comfortable, delivered under the supervision of an anesthesiologist.   The procedure generally takes 30-45 minutes.  Upon awakening  in the recovery room, crackers and juice will be offered prior to your departure.  Dr. McBride will discuss the results with you immediately after the procedure. If polyps were removed or biopsies were obtained, you will be instructed to call the office in approximately one week for those results.  You are required to have someone accompany you to drive you home following the procedure, as it is not recommended to operate a motor vehicle or make important decisions for the remainder of the day. You may return to normal activities and work the following day.  Your referring doctor will be informed of the procedure findings once the final biopsy report is available.  You should experience no pain following the procedure. 

A colonoscopy is a very safe procedure, but there are some risks involved.  There is a 1 in 3,000 risk of a colon perforation, which is a puncture in the lining of the colon which often requires surgery to repair.  Other rare risks include bleeding after a polyp removal, and heart or lung complications following the anesthesia use for the procedure.  Dr. McBride will discuss the risks and benefits of the colonoscopy procedure prior to the procedure, and will answer any questions you may have.
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