Colonic Polypectomy: Procedure and Results

A polyp is an abnormal growth of tissue inside the body. Polyps can form in a number of different locations from the linings of the nose to the inner walls of the uterus; however, colorectal polyps, which form on the lining of the colon or rectum, are one of the most common types. The majority of colon polyps are harmless, but certain types of polyps, such as neoplastic polyps, can develop into colon cancer. 

Since colon polyps often don’t cause any symptoms, it’s important to have regular screening tests so that the colon polyps can be removed safely and completely in the early stages. The tissue can then be examined to determine if the growth is precancerous, cancerous, or benign. If you are experiencing abdominal pain, blood in your stool, or a change in your bowel habits that lasts longer than a week, it’s time to discuss colonic polypectomy with a colorectal surgeon in Tampa

Related: Treatable Structural Disorders of the Colon and Rectum

What to Expect Before Surgery

Prior to the surgery, an examination of your colon and intestine may need to be performed. This can be done with a variety of methods, including X-rays, barium enema, or a diagnostic colonoscopy. Furthermore, your colon must be completely cleaned before the procedure so as to not obstruct the view of the intestine. This can be accomplished through any of the possible cleansing methods:

  • Clear-liquid diet
  • Laxatives
  • Enemas
  • Oral cathartic medication

If you are currently taking any medications or have diabetes, you may be asked to stop taking certain medications for up to a week before the procedure or adjust your insulin dose on your doctor’s request. Additionally, the night before the surgery, your doctor will instruct you to not eat or drink anything after midnight. Arrangements should be made for a ride from the procedure as well. 

What to Expect During Surgery

A polypectomy is typically carried out during the same time as a colonoscopy. During this process, a colonoscope, or a long, thin tube with a light and camera at the end of it, will be inserted through the rectum to the colon. Small polyps less than five millimeters in diameter can be removed with biopsy forceps. Larger polyps up to two centimeters in diameter can be removed with a snare. Any remaining tissue left from where the growth has been cut off with the snare will be cauterized. 

In certain cases, the polyps may be destroyed with an electrical current that can also be used to close the wounding and stop any bleeding. Some polyps, due to factors like large size, may need to be removed with endoscopic mucosal resection or endoscopic submucosal dissection. Bowel surgery may be required if the polyps cannot be removed. Once removed, the polyps will be sent to a pathology lab to check if they are cancerous. 

What to Expect After Surgery 

The outlook following the colonic polypectomy surgery is generally positive, as the procedure is noninvasive with a low risk for complications and a recovery time of approximately two weeks. However, further treatment will be determined by whether or not the lab results report back that your polyps are precancerous, cancerous, or benign. If it’s benign, then no further treatment may be necessary. If it’s precancerous, steps will be taken to prevent colon cancer, and if it is cancerous, steps will be taken to treat your colon cancer. 

To learn more about colorectal surgery in Tampa, or to schedule a consultation with Whalen Clark, M.D., please request an appointment today.

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