Advanced Procedures Can Lead To Welcome Relief
Colon cancer screening and colonoscopy are practically synonymous since colonoscopy is the “gold standard” in colon cancer screening. Colonoscopy is both diagnostic and therapeutic, which simply means that it can help your gastroenterologist fix what he or she finds. GI doctors often find polyps, which are little bumps or growths in the lining of your colon. Most polyps are benign or noncancerous. Colonoscopy allows your gastroenterologist to find the polyps and remove them before they become cancerous.
Bowel Preparation for Colonoscopy
Your doctor will prescribe the best bowel prep for you and give you specific instructions. In general, you can expect to:
- Change your diet at least one day before your colonoscopy procedure and limit yourself to clear broth, tea, gelatin, ginger ale, sherbet and clear fruit juices.
- Avoid gelatin desserts and liquids that are red or purple.
- Avoid dehydration during prep by drinking more fluids than usual.
- Learn exactly when to stop eating and drinking before your procedure.
- Follow all the steps your GI doctor prescribes. Tell your doctor if you’re taking aspirin products, arthritis medication, blood thinner, insulin or iron products. Some medications can interfere with prep for colonoscopy.
Your bowel must be clean so that your doctor can thoroughly examine your colon. Many patients feel that the bowel prep is the most difficult part of the process.
Several types of bowel prep medications are available. Your physician will recommend the best one for you. Carefully follow your doctor’s instructions about the exact dose and timing of your prep. Some preps may be covered by your medical insurance. Keep track of any out-of pocket costs and save your receipts. Your medical condition will be the most important factor in deciding which type of bowel prep is best for you.
Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy (PEG)
Patients who have difficulty swallowing, appetite problems or inability to take adequate nutrition by mouth can benefit from this procedure. During a PEG procedure, your GI doctor places a flexible feeding tube through your abdominal wall into your stomach. PEG allows you to receive nutrition, fluids and medications directly. Patients can usually go home the same day or the next day.
Esophageal Testing (Manometry)
Manometry measures pressures and patterns of muscle contraction in the esophagus, the feeding tube that connects your mouth to your stomach. Abnormal contractions or muscle strength in the lower sphincter of the esophagus can result in pain, heartburn and difficulty swallowing. Esophageal manometry helps your GI doctor diagnose conditions that may cause your symptoms.
Using upper endoscopy, your GI doctor examines the lining of your upper gastrointestinal tract, esophagus, stomach and duodenum (the first part of your small intestine). Upper endoscopy is also called upper GI endoscopy, EGD and panendoscopy. It helps your gastroenterologist evaluate symptoms such as persistent upper abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting or difficulty swallowing. It’s the best way to determine the cause of upper gastrointestinal bleeding, and it’s more accurate than X-rays for detecting inflammation, ulcers and tumors of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum.
Upper endoscopy also allows GI doctors to distinguish between benign and malignant (cancerous) tissues. Your GI doctor might order endoscopy biopsy even if he or she does not suspect cancer. For example, he or she might test for Helicobacter pylori, the bacterium that causes ulcers. Upper endoscopy also helps treat conditions of the upper gastrointestinal tract using special instruments passed through the endoscope to treat many abnormalities with little or no discomfort to you. Your GI doctor might dilate a narrowed area, remove polyps or treat bleeding.
Capsule endoscopy is an amazing procedure that involves swallowing a pill-sized endoscope with a tiny on-board camera and tracking its journey through your digestive tract to identify abnormalities in the lining of the middle of your GI tract, which includes all three portions of your small intestine, duodenum, jejunum and ileum. Your doctor will view these structures and give you useful information about your small intestine health. This part of the bowel is unreachable through upper endoscopy or colonoscopy. Capsule endoscopy may also be useful for detecting polyps, Crohn’s disease, ulcers and small intestinal tumors. You should check with your health insurance provider to ensure that this is a covered procedure because it is relatively new.
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