Colonoscopy - Medical Negligence Solicitors – Compensation Claims

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Colonoscopy

A colonoscopy is a medical procedure in which a doctor looks at and evaluates the integrity of the inside of the colon. The colonoscope is a flexible tube which is 4 feet long. It has a camera at the end of the tube, which is the width of the finger. The colonoscope is inserted into the anus and maneuvered to the depth of the cecum so that the entire colon is covered.

A colonoscopy can be performed for a number of reasons. It can be done for evaluation of blood in the stool, diarrhea, or abdominal pain. An abnormality can be found on CT scan that needs to be further evaluated by colonoscopy. It is the gold standard screening test for colon cancer and is recommended to be done at age 50 and every ten years thereafter. People with a history of colon cancer or a family history of colon cancer need more frequent testing with a colonoscope. This includes people who have a history of Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.

In a colonoscopy, an IV is started before the procedure and a cardiac monitor is placed that also measures oxygenation. The patient receives an IV sedative to make sure that the individual is calm during the procedure. Cramping and bloating are often felt during the procedure. The patient is lying on his or her left side as the procedure happens. The colonoscope passes through the colon to the cecum if possible. Sometimes the colonoscope doesn’t make it all the way to the cecum. It takes about fifteen to sixty minutes to do the procedure. If it is incomplete, barium enema is done to complete the exam or a CT scan with contrast (virtual colonoscopy) is done to complete the colon examination.

The actual evaluation of the colon doesn’t take place until the colonoscope is being withdrawn from the cecum. It is looking for any abnormalities of the colon such as an abnormal-looking mucosa, polyps, ulceration or infection. Any of these can be removed by tools associated with the colonoscope. Suspicious areas may be biopsied with a pincer device and a snare can get rid of small or medium-sized polyps. If bleeding is found, its site can be identified. Most polyps are fortunately benign and can be looked at under the microscope for any precancerous changes. A colonoscopy can actually prevent colon cancer by removing precancerous polyps before they become cancerous.

Colonoscopies are usually safe and pose no complications. They are, however, best performed by trained gastroenterologists who offer the least number of mistakes. There can be bleeding at biopsy sites or at sites where polyps were removed. It can be treated through the colonoscope in most cases. In rare cases transfusions or open surgery is required to control bleeding. Perforation of the colon wall is possible and may cause peritonitis or require surgery. Many perforations are small and do not need surgery to correct them. There can be serious complications or reactions secondary to the sedatives used to calm the patient. Vein irritation is possible with a hematoma or bruising noted at the site of IV insertion. There can be complications due to previous heart disease or lung disease. The total complication rate from a colonoscopy adds to less than 1 percent.

If you’ve had a colonoscopy, you should be aware of the possible signs and symptoms so that you can go to the emergency room for evaluation and possible hospitalization. The colonoscopy provider should be notified at any sign of complication. The main complication symptoms are rectal bleeding, pain in the abdomen, fever and chills, indicating infection.

As mentioned, the colonoscopy is the gold standard for evaluating structures inside of the colon. Alternatives to this procedure include the barium enema, which is less accurate than a colonoscopy. It uses dye and x-rays to see structures inside the colon. A flexible sigmoidoscopy covers less of the colonic tissue because it is a shorter scope. A CT colonoscopy is increasing in frequency and many feel it has the same detection rate as a colonoscopy.


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