COLONOSCOPY

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What is a colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is a visual inspection of the lining of the entire colon. Its purpose is to screen for colorectal cancer and pre-cancerous polyps. It may also be helpful to diagnose causes of diarrhea, abdominal pain, or the possibility of inflammatory bowel disease.

What is a colorectal cancer?
Colorectal cancer is a disease that can attack the colon, rectum or both. Colon cancer is still one of the leading causes of cancer deaths in the United States. Colorectal cancer may be confused with other conditions, so if you have a change in bowel habits, see Dr. Hixon as soon as possible. Colorectal cancer usually doesn’t cause pain in its beginning stages; however, finding and treating it early may save your life.

Who should have a colonoscopy?
The doctor may recommend a colonoscopy to:

    • Screen the colon at age 50 or earlier if there is a family history of colon cancer.
    • Examine and possibly remove polyps or tumors located by a barium enema exam.
    • Monitor patients with a past history of colon polyps or cancer, or with a strong family history of colon cancer.
    • Examine patients who test positive for blood in the stool.
    • Check inflammatory bowel disease (colitis).
    • Check unexplained abdominal symptoms or change in bowel habits.
    • Identify cause of unexplained bleeding.

What are the risks of a colonoscopy?
Colonoscopy and polypectomy are associated with very low risk when performed by doctors with special training and experience doing these endoscopic procedures. One possible complication is perforation, which is a tear through the wall of the bowel that may allow leakage of intestinal fluids. Perforation will usually necessitate hospitalization and often surgery. Another complication is bleeding that may occur from the site of biopsy or polyp removal. It is usually minor and stops on its own. Rarely, hospitalization and surgery are necessary. A third complication is localized irritation of the vein in your hand that may occur at the site of medication injection. A tender lump could develop and may remain for several weeks to several months. It is very important that you understand these risks and address them with Dr. Hixon before your procedure.

What are the benefits of having a colonoscopy?
The doctor can perform a biopsy and remove polyps during the procedure before they turn into cancer. Screening tests may also find colorectal cancer early, when the chance of being cured is better.

How do I schedule a colonoscopy?
To schedule your colonoscopy, please call our office at 404-523-2400.

 

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