Colonoscopies are a fact of life. Or, at least, they should be. The staff here at Mountain View Endoscopy Center takes great pride in the fact that the thousands of colonoscopies we perform each year save lives. The cold, hard fact is that colorectal cancers (cancers of the colon and rectum) are the third most common form of cancer, and the second-leading cause of death in both men and women 50-years and older.
A wonderful counterpoint to those bleak statistics is that when it is caught early, colorectal cancer is one of the easiest cancers to treat. In addition to helping us diagnose ulcers, areas of inflammation, bleeding and benign polyps, colonoscopies are an excellent colorectal screening tool – allowing us to remove suspicious growths that could grow into cancer, or removing cancerous cells, tumors or growths before their cells have a chance to multiply and/or metastasize into something much more significant.
Fuse® Full Spectrum Endoscopies Leave Nothing to the Imagination
Mountain View Endoscopy is thrilled to offer our patients colonoscopies using Fuse® Full Spectrum Endoscopy. Unlike traditional colonoscopes, which provide a 170° view of the colon, our flexible Fuse scope comes equipped cameras attached to both the sides and the tip. As a result, we can see around a 330® radius, giving us a much better view of the colon lining.
A better view of the colon means more accurate diagnosis of potential issues or current areas of concern. This makes it easier for us to provide better and earlier care and treatment for our patients. Our goal is to transform colorectal cancer rates one Fuse® endoscopy at a time. The sooner we catch rogue polyps and abnormal growths in the colon, the fewer cases of cancer will be diagnosed; it’s a win-win for us all.
When Do I Need a Colonoscopy?
Just to be clear, the colon is another word for the large intestine. Thus, the scope is designed to be flexible and is about 4-feet long – long enough to run from the rectum, up and around the entire colon, to the cecum, where it joins the small intestine. This is like running through the colon in reverse, since the colon actually begins at the cecum and ends at the rectum.
While it’s true that colonoscopies are most widely known now as a cancer screening and/or diagnostic tool, they are also very helpful for assessing a handful of gastrointestinal issues that can affect the upper or lower- GI.
Outside of preventative medicine, we use colonoscopies when patients are experiencing unexplained:
- Changes in bowel habits
- Rectal bleeding
- Abdominal pain
- Chronic diarrhea
It is also used for patients who have a history of previous colon cancer or polyps, or whose family history includes colonic issues or conditions that are potential precursors to cancer. In light of recent research, many general physicians recommend patients have colonoscopies done every 10 years or so from 50-years old and up. These screenings may be increased in regularity depending on symptoms, medical history, family medical history, previous colonoscopy findings or other colon or GI issues that are known precursors of cancer. Colonoscopy screenings typically cease after age 85.
What Do I Need to Know About the Colonoscopy Procedure?
The most important thing to know is that the procedure is completely safe and is never painful. In fact, it shouldn’t involve anything more than the most minor of discomfort – and this is typically the result of gas from the air that we use to inflate the colon a bit so we can get a better view. In fact, for some of our patients, the sedatives and the procedure’s comfortable resting position cause them to fall asleep while the procedure is taking place!
Have someone to drive you and pick you back up
Speaking of sedatives, you will need to have someone drive you home after your colonoscopy. The sedatives used to relax you will make it impossible for you to drive safely. Legally, we cannot let you get behind the wheel and will make sure you have someone to take you home. Therefore, it’s important that you schedule your colonoscopy at a date and time that is convenient for both you and your colonoscopy chauffer.
You will need to cleanse and prepare the colon
It probably won’t come as a surprise that we need the colon to be as clean as possible before we insert the scope. This ensures we have the best view possible during the procedure, and it also makes it easier to remove clean samples of polyps, tumors or other growths that we may find along the way.
You will receive specific, written instructions from our office regarding the steps required to prepare for the procedure. Typically, this involves:
- A few days of a simple and then a liquid diet (broth, juices, shakes and smoothies)
- A special laxative solution that continues to purge the bowels of remaining solids and liquids. During this phase of the cleanse, you will want to remain in close proximity to the bathroom.
- An enema, which should be administered a couple of hours before your procedure.
By this point, your colon should be free of the more bulky waste products, and any remaining liquids, blood or debris should not cause an issue with the scope or the doctor’s view.
The Colonoscopy Process
Once you’re checked in, we’ll make sure you are comfortable and provide you with a warm blanket. A sedative will be administered to help you relax and you will be positioned on your left-hand side. The scope is smoothly contoured and flexible, and the doctor will ensure it is adequately lubricated so it can be easily manipulated through the rectum and colon.
The Fuse Colonoscopy® comes equipped with a light, cameras, air to inflate the colon if necessary and a small, sharp, wire loop that is used to remove polyps, growths or cell samples, which are sent to the lab for biopsy.
The entire process takes no more than 30 minutes, at which point you’ll be able to get dressed and allow the sedatives to wear off in the recovery room. The doctor will join you to let you know how things went during the procedure, as well as anything he saw or gives him cause for concern.
The results of any tissue biopsies are typically returned to our office within a week. We will call you as soon as we get them, informing you that things are all clear, or to schedule another appointment if the results require further examination, testing or treatment.
Contact Mountain View Endoscopy Center to Schedule a Colonoscopy
The staff and medical team at Mountain View Endoscopy Center are dedicated to making your colonoscopy as simple and stress-free as possible. Contact us online to schedule your preventive or diagnostic colonoscopy, or call our office directly at 650-988-7488.