Minimally Invasive Procedure for Screening and Diagnosing Colorectal Cancer
A colonoscopy is a minimally invasive medical procedure most often performed for the screening and diagnosis of colorectal cancer and to diagnose the causes of chronic diarrhea or chronic constipation. A colonoscopy shows your entire large intestine, from your rectum through the lower end of your small intestine, enabling your doctor to see inflamed tissue, colon polyps, ulcers and bleeding.
Doctors at Loyola Medicine are dedicated to the screening and prevention of colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. Colonoscopy is considered the most sensitive and accurate screening method for colon and rectal cancer, as the procedure enables your doctor to find and remove precancerous growths known as polyps.
What to Expect
How is a Colonoscopy Done?
A colonoscopy is used to diagnose cancers of the colon and rectum. If you are undergoing a colonoscopy, your doctor will provide instructions for colonoscopy preparation. It is necessary for your colon to be completely empty prior to the procedure. To prepare, you will be asked to maintain a liquid diet for one to three days before your procedure, and you will be required to take laxatives the night prior.
On the day of your procedure, you will be given a mild sedative and pain medication to make you comfortable. Your doctor will insert a long, flexible, illuminated tube into your rectum and slowly guide it into your colon. Acting like a camera, the scope provides an image of the inside of your colon.
If a polyp or abnormal tissue is detected, your doctor can remove it by inserting an instrument through the scope. The biopsy of tissue will be sent for further testing.
Although extremely minimal and rare, complications can arise during a colonoscopy. You may experience:
- Cardiovascular events
- Diverticulitis, a condition that occurs when a small pouch in the colon becomes irritated, swollen and infected
- Perforation, such as a hole or tear in the lining of the colon
- Severe abdominal pain
Bleeding and perforation are the most common complications from a colonoscopy, but can be managed during the procedure itself.
Doctors at Loyola agree that the benefits of screening far outweigh the risks associated with the procedure.
Frequently Asked Questions about Colonoscopy
What is the difference between a “screening” colonoscopy and a “diagnostic” colonoscopy?
A “screening” colonoscopy is a colonoscopy that is done for the prevention of colorectal cancer and is considered a preventive health service. A screening colonoscopy will have no out-of-pocket costs for patients (such as co-pays or deductibles).
A “diagnostic” colonoscopy is a colonoscopy that is done to investigate abnormal symptoms, tests, prior conditions or family history. A diagnostic colonoscopy may include out-of-pocket costs for patients (such as co-pays or deductibles), depending on your insurance plan.
At this time, a colonoscopy can be considered a “screening” colonoscopy only if ALL of the following are true:
- 50 years or older
- No symptoms
- No prior abnormal testing
What if I have any symptoms?
If you have any symptoms that could be related to a colon or rectal problem such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, blood in the stool or weight loss, then your colonoscopy is considered a “diagnostic” colonoscopy.
What if I have a prior history of colorectal problems?
What if I have a family history of colorectal polyps or cancer?
If you have any family history of colon or rectal cancer or polyps, then your colonoscopy may be considered a “diagnostic” colonoscopy, depending on your insurance plan.
- No prior history of colorectal problems
- No family history of colorectal polyps or cancers
What if I had abnormal blood, stool or radiology tests?
- If you have any abnormal blood tests such as low blood counts (anemia) or low iron counts, then your colonoscopy is considered a “diagnostic” colonoscopy.
- If you have any abnormal stool tests such as FOBT, FIT or Cologuard, then your colonoscopy is considered a “diagnostic” colonoscopy.
- If you have any prior radiology tests such as X-rays, CT scans or MRI scans that show
- abnormalities in your colon or rectum, then your colonoscopy is considered a “diagnostic” colonoscopy.
What if a problem is found during a “screening” colonoscopy?
If you undergo a “screening” colonoscopy and something is found during the test (like a polyp or other abnormal area) that requires a biopsy or removal, then the colonoscopy may no longer be considered “screening.” Your insurance plan may then consider this a “diagnostic” colonoscopy where you may be charged a co-pay or deductible.
Please contact Patient Financial Services at 800-424-4840 if you have questions regarding any bill you receive for preventive care visits from Loyola Medicine.