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Colonoscopies Colonoscopies

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Unread 04-19-2003, 10:06 PM

Ladies, definitely get those colonoscopies!!!! My mom was diagnosed with colon cancer on Jan.22- she went in for surgery on the 27th. and they found it had spread to her liver, she had to undergo a very difficult surgery and she passed away on Feb.5th. Needless to say as I was standing in her room looking at her all I could think of is if she had had a colonoscopy 10-15 years earlier would things be different. She was only 58 so I think 50 still would of been late. They say this cancer can be there for 15 years, so get that pesty test done. My friend says now I sound like Katie Couric but to think this cancer can be caught early and stopped in it's tracks it seems silly not to get it done.
Best wishes to everyone,
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Unread 04-20-2003, 07:39 AM

Dear Kim.

Deepest sympathy to you and your family. Your response, and unfortunate situation, should definately be a wake up call for many. I know it would have been for me if I were contemplating the shoulds and shoulds not of having the test done.

Thank You for sharing with us.

Unread 04-20-2003, 07:50 AM

As a veteran of 4 colonoscopies I can assure you they are a piece of cake here in the US. I've heard that on the continent they are not as "big" on routinely sedating colonoscopy patients. Here in the US sedation is routine: usually Versed (or Valium) IV as well as alfentynal (sp?) as an analgesic, also via IV.

The prep is the worst part of the procedure, definitely. But there are options even there. Many do like the Visicol tabs. It used to be you needed to take 40 of them and LOTS of water w/each tablet over a short period of time. Now, I understand the number has been reduced to 20 tabs. This is not an option for me because it is the volume of fluid in such a short space of time that is as difficult as trying to get that litre or whatever of the Lytely product down - and keeping it down.

One thing I "have" discovered is AVOID the "sweet" flavored products, i.e. Cherry flavored. Go for the "sour" flavors, i.e. lemon-lime. If you are prone to nausea resulting in upchucking as I am I can tell you from experience upchucking "sweet" is MUCH worse than upchucking "sour".

That being said, there is also the option of Magnesium Citrate. Again, avoid Cherry flavor and go for the Lemon-Lime. Usually this requires a two day liquid diet and drinking 1 - 10 oz bottle f the Mag Cit each evening. You can safely sip the bottle of Mag Cit over the period of a half hour or hour or you can chug-a-lug the 10 ozs. Whichever works best for you.

There is also the Fleets PhosphoSoda. The kit, if you go that route, involves a small dose of alka seltzer type crystals in water or ginger ale, some Dulcolax tablets and a Fleets suppository. Or you can do just the two day liquid diet and PhosphoSoda crystals drink.

These latter two are preferable for me due to the smaller volumes of liquid in a short time period. The key to any of the preps is to drink plenty of clear liquids as they are what do the rinsing of the colon to get it squeaky clean. The prep solutions themselves are to inspire the gut to move everything thru.

If nausea during the prep is a problem your gastro can script phenergan tabs for you. They work wonderfully.

You can find detailed information about the ways and whys of this procedure plus many others including blood draws at:

You "might" feel a slight sting when the sedation for the scope hits your arm or wherever the IV is placed and then you will wake up wondering WHEN they are going to start the procedure - except they will have already done the procedure and are trying to tell you what they saw.

My Crohn's disease in confined to the small intestine and I had my last scope, at my request, with no sedation, just a small dose of IV Demerol so I could watch on the monitor. Fascinating!

However, for those with known colon problems, especially at the rectum or anus I would advise against this as it would seem more likely for the procedure to be more uncomfortable. Go for the sedation and analgesia. For those allergic to Versed or Valium or those who have had previously painful colonoscopies due to rectal lesions, fissures, etc. there is also the option of general anesthesia. Short acting proporfol (sp?), usually.

My first scope I reacted to the Versed and got hostile so the scope was incomplete. My second scope, due to the Versed reaction, was done with the general anesthesia. However, I have this phobia about going under anesthetic and sedation so altho the scope was a breeze, I had problems w/a very unhappy, irritable, crabby intestine for some time afterward, including nausea. It took some doing to convince my gastro that the "IBS" was due to my getting into such a twit "prior" to the scope "because" of her insistence on sedation or anesthesia.

I had absolutely NO problems with a grumpy, irritable, crochety intestine after the scope w/just Demerol for any minor discomfort. Knowing I would be wide awake and aware of what was going on I didn't get into a twit ahead of time. My gastro has since undergone both the upper and lower scopes w/o sedation and agrees with me that the upper scope is worse, not due to pain but due to the gagging.

So relax. Get thru the prep. Enjoy the "nap" and get the colonoscopy over with. They are a breeze - except for the prep. No way to avoid that, unfortunately.
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Unread 04-20-2003, 10:42 AM

Crohnie... thanks for the info. I was just diagnosed with Crohns disease around 3 weeks ago. I am getting a colonoscopy done on the 28th because after medication my white blood cell count is still at 12000 when it should be at 8000. I still have blood in my stool. The cat scan wasnt enough info for the doc so that's why I am having it done. I feel better knowing it isn't going to be painful!! Thanks for all the info!
Unread 04-20-2003, 11:13 AM

I agree with all the sister who posted that the colonoscopy is not painful. And, the prep is the worst part.
Many gastroenertologists have a specifc procedure that they want you to undergo for the prep and they do not always deviate.
I know my own gastro had me do the phospho cyrstals, magnesium phosphaste and the go-litely. UGGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!
It was her opinion that the more stuff you had to wash the colon, the better view she would have of the areas. After, I asked her about the other possible choices and she was adamant that her way, though most uncomfortable, was the best way for her.
My DH slept in the spare room, just in case I had to keep visiting the bathroom, throughout the night, for my comfort and privacy. It was a loooooong night.
The colonoscopy is a breeze, itself. Whatever they give you for that nice twilight sleep is great! You drift off and wake up with it all over and done. Once your vitals are okay and you are fully awake, you are free to go.
I would make one recommendation, and that it to have your colonoscopy at a colonoscopy center or gasto's office instead of a hospital.
Unread 04-20-2003, 11:42 AM


I'm curious as to why you say that if one has a choice, to have the scope done at a colonoscopy center or the gastro's office, rather than at a hospital?

My gastro does some of her colonoscopies at an outpatient center and most of them at the local hospital endoscopy unit. Mine have always been done at the local hospital, she did my neighbor's at the outpatient center. She doesn't do any at her office.

Your gastro's cleansing procedure is total overkill. I wouldn't go thru that much cleansing for ANY gastro. Once your BMs are totally water with no sand and no bits and pieces you are clean enough for any scope. I've had two of my 4 scopes videoed and watched the other on the monitor and I was squeaky clean each time. I did just the two day clear liquid diet and the phospho soda one time, the two day clear liquid diet and the Magnesium Citrate the others. The first time is the ONLY time I did just the Lytley product and one day clear liquid diet. I've never used the Dulolax tablets or the Fleets suppositories with any of them.
Unread 04-20-2003, 12:23 PM

Helene... I am curious too.. Why not a hospital???

I had mine done in the outpatient section of the hospital and actually I felt more secure there in case something did go wrong.

I went in at 8am (by the time they took me it was almost 9am) and was home by 11am.

I also had to be on a clear liquid diet the day before and drank the go lightly at night.

My doctor also believes in the fact that the better cleaned out you are, the farther up he can see and the better.

By the way,,,, how often do we need these things done if there were no problems or palops or nothint at all removed???

Unread 04-20-2003, 04:17 PM
colonoscopy schedule

Hi Rosalie,

I've posted a link below that has the ACS guidelines for colorectal cancer screening. For a colonoscopy specifically, it looks like 1 every 10 years if you've got no additional risk factors for colorectal cancer (family history, etc.). Hope it's helpful,

Unread 04-20-2003, 04:57 PM

Thanks for that URL, Beth. For some reason I was thinking it was every 5 years after age 50 fr those with no special risk.

How clean your colon is has nothing to do with how FAR into the colon they can see but has "everything" to do with how "well" they can see. How far in they can see depends almost entirely on the skill of the one doing the scope and how resistant the intestine is to the procedure. In the vast majority of scopes they can get into and thru the ileocecal valve to examine the first few inches of the distal terminal ileum as well as the entire colon.

Unread 04-20-2003, 06:02 PM

Although my gastroenterologist told me I could wait 5 years after my first colonoscopy in 1999, I decided for peace of mind I would be retested after 3 years. When she did the test this March, she found and removed a small area of tissue. She said before the pathology came back that her recommendation for next screening would depend on whether pathology determined the tissue to be polyp-like or pimple-like. If it was polyp-like, she said she would recommend retesting in 2 years, while if it was pimple-like, I could wait for 5 years.

While the tissue ended up being pimple-like, she said if I felt more comfortable with being retested in 3 years, that would be fine. I guess she knows me by now!


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