Colonoscopy - Medical Malpractice Lawyer
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A colonoscopy is a commonly performed GI test in which a lighted camera is inserted via an endoscope into the colon in order to check for polyps and colon cancer. The endoscope, also called a colonoscope, also has room for small tools that can manipulate tissue and can do biopsies of the suspicious tissue.
A colonoscopy is recommended as a screening tool for just about anyone at the age of 50 and every ten years thereafter. If an individual has a history in the family of colon cancer at an early age, they may have Lynch syndrome or familial polyposis syndrome—both conditions with a high risk of colon cancer at an early age. These people will have a colonoscopy early—at the discretion of their doctor.
Colonoscopy can also be performed for other reasons. It is helpful in the investigation of blood in the stool, diarrhea, abdominal pain, possible Crohn’s disease, possible ulcerative colitis, a change in bowel habit or an abnormality found on a CT scan. If a person has had previous polyps found in the colon, the colonoscopy is done more often than every ten years.
For a colonoscopy, the individual must clear their colon of all particulate matter. This means taking a laxative, which may be Miralax or a gallon of a preparation that clears out the colon. The person must take in only clear liquids for only a few days before the procedure. Then the colonoscopy is scheduled.
For the colonoscopy, the individual receives light sedation and must lie on their left side. The surgeon or other skilled doctor places the colonoscope into the colon, ideally as high in the colon as he can get—up to the cecum if possible and then backs the colonoscope slowly, looking for abnormalities, like polyps, ulcerations or other abnormalities. These areas are often biopsied so that a pathologist can tell if the biopsy showed cancer or other diseases. If the biopsy showed cancer, the person is scheduled for a laparotomy to remove the cancer.
Complications of a colonoscopy are not common and are usually minor when the physician is skilled in doing his procedure and when they have taken training in colonoscopy procedures. One complication is bleeding at the site of the biopsy or when polyps are removed. This bleeding usually can be removed at the site using the colonoscopy tools. It is very uncommon to have bleeding after the colonoscopy is over with, but if this happens, the colonoscopy may have to be repeated in order to stop the bleeding. There can also be a perforation of the colon during the procedure. Perforations rarely need surgery to correct the perforation as they often heal themselves without surgery.
Other complications are related to the use of IV sedation. The person can be allergic or hyper-sensitive to the sedative and can have complications. There can be localized irritation at the IV site. There can be complications relating to heart and lung disease. The incidence of these things is less than 1 percent altogether.
These complications are rare, however, it is possible to have them be serious and it is important to recognize the early signs of serious complications so you know when to call the doctor or return to the emergency room to have the complication taken care of. Rectal bleeding, fever and chills are important signs to look for.
A colonoscopy is the gold standard of testing for colon cancer; however, some patients may not which to have a colonoscopy or are not good candidates for a colonoscopy. These people can have a barium enema or a CT colonoscopy, which uses CT scanning and contrast to identify polyps. Some people simply have a FIT test, which is an immunochemical test for blood in the stool. These are considered of poorer quality than a colonoscopy but are better than having no test at all.
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