Consultants who perform this procedure
Why would I need a colonoscopy with polyp removal?
Bowel polyps are small, fleshy growths that can form within the lining of the inside of the large intestine (also called the large bowel or the colon) or the rectum.
Most of the time, patients don’t know they have polyps and they’re only discovered during a colonoscopy procedure to check for other bowel conditions such as Crohn’s disease or bowel cancer.
Sometimes, large bowel polyps can cause the following symptoms:
- Blood or mucus in the stools
- Urgency to pass stool, or a sensation that there’s more to come
Bowel polyps don’t usually become cancerous but some types can, so doctors usually advise that you have them removed. During your procedure, your specialist may find polyps and remove them at the same time. This is not painful, and does greatly reduce your chance of bowel cancer in the future.
What symptoms does a colonoscopy with polyp removal address?
A colonoscopy with polyp removal is carried out to treat any symptoms you may be experiencing and to help prevent polyps becoming cancerous.
When should you speak to your specialist about a colonoscopy with polyp removal?
If you have any of the following symptoms, speak to your specialist about potentially undergoing a colonoscopy:
- Abdominal pain
- Chronic constipation or diarrhoea
- Bleeding from the rectum
- Unexplained weight loss
- Unexplained tiredness
How is a colonoscopy with polyp removal performed?
This procedure is often carried out under sedation, which means that you’ll be sleepy and relaxed and you won’t feel any pain. The procedure can take up to an hour (but usually less) and you’ll be able to return home the same day. Not everyone has sedation, and it’s possible to have the procedure done without any drugs at all.
During the procedure, you’ll be asked to lay on your left hand side with your knees up towards your chest. Your specialist will then pass a long, thin medical instrument called an endoscope into your back passage and up into your colon.
The endoscope is flexible and has a camera and a light on the end to allow your specialist to clearly see the inside of your bowel on a nearby screen. They may need to inflate your abdomen with gas in order to get a clearer view.
When your specialist locates a polyp, they will pass a wire loop through the endoscope and use this to either cauterise (burn off) or cut away the polyp. Each polyp will be sent to the laboratory for testing.
What is the recovery like for a colonoscopy with polyp removal?
Your recovery from having a colonoscopy with polyp removal will depend on multiple factors, including your age, fitness level and the nature of your procedure.
Afterwards, you may feel drowsy if you have sedation for an hour or so and you may have some discomfort from the air that was pumped into your abdomen. This should dissipate after a few hours. You may also notice blood in your stools for a few days.
If you receive sedation, you’ll be advised not to drive or be on your own for 24 hours.
Your medical team will discuss any immediate results with you before you go home, and will tell you when to expect the results of any biopsies taken.
Are there any risks/complications associated with a colonoscopy with polyp removal?
As with any medical procedure, it’s possible for risks or complications to arise. Speaking with your specialist beforehand will help you avoid any adverse reactions.
A colonoscopy with polyp removal has a relatively low risk of serious complications, but the following risks and complications can occur in a small number of cases:
- Damage to the bowel by causing a hole or perforation
- Bleeding – this can occur up to two weeks after removal of a polyp
How can I prepare for a colonoscopy with polyp removal?
Prior to a colonoscopy with polyp removal, your specialist will discuss with you how best to prepare for surgery, as each patient is different.
Before having a colonoscopy, you’ll need to take care to follow all the instructions given to you by your medical team. This will generally involve eating a low fibre diet in the days before your procedure, and taking a special laxative bowel preparation to clear the bowel. This will ensure your specialist has a clear view of your bowel. You may also be asked to stop iron tablets (as these colour the stool black and can interfere with views) and blood thinning tablets such as clopidogrel, warfarin or other drugs. Please remember to tell your specialist if there is any chance you could be pregnant.
Are there alternatives for a colonoscopy with polyp removal?
Sometimes if polyps are discovered whilst having a diagnostic colonoscopy, they can be too large or difficult to remove during the same procedure. If this is the case, you may need to return for a repeat procedure following scans to exclude cancer within the polyp.