Coastal Digestive Care Center, New London, CT

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is an exam that allows a doctor to closely look at the inside of the entire colon (or large intestine). The doctor is looking for polyps or signs of cancer. Polyps are small growths of tissue that over time can become cancer. A colonoscope is a flexible and steerable instrument used to evaluate the entire colon (large intestine). The large intestine is approximately 3-4 feet long.
Who will do the exam?
Your colonoscopy will be performed by a gastroenterologist (a doctor whose specialty is the digestive tract).
Will my insurance pay for this procedure?
Medicare (and most third party payers) will pay for colonoscopies for colon cancer screening. © American College of Gastroenterology.
Will it hurt?
No, colonoscopy is usually not painful! Almost all colonoscopies can be performed using "intravenous sedation" or "twilight sedation" in which you are very drowsy, but comfortable and still breathing on your own. The most common type of sedation also has a mild amnesiac effect, so most patients do not even remember the procedure! Your doctor can discuss with you the best form of sedation to suit your needs. © American College of Gastroenterology.
Will I be in a private room?
We have 2 private endoscopy suites where all our procedures are performed. Our patients' privacy is a top concern.
How do I prepare?
You will receive instructions from our office once your procedure is scheduled. Read these carefully. If you are not sure about any of the instructions, contact our office and we will go over them step by step with a nurse.
What type of prep do I use for my procedure?
This is an important obstacle in the eyes of many patients to getting a colonoscopy, but it need not be! There are a variety of preparation methods for colonoscopy ranging from liquids (of varying quantity) with or without enemas, to pills, which rid your colon of feces. A clean colon is essential to allow for a careful examination for polyps or other abnormalities. Your doctor can discuss and prescribe the most appropriate preparation method for you, taking into account various factors such as your age, personal preferences, kidney function and physical stamina. © American College of Gastroenterology.
Will I need to miss work?
Due to the use of sedatives during your procedure, people usually will miss work on that day of their procedure.
How will I feel afterward?
Most people feel OK after a colonoscopy. They may feel a bit woozy from the drugs; therefore, we recommend light activity with plenty of rest following the procedure. You'll be watched by our nursing staff and given fluids and a small snack in our recovery area. You may feel some abdominal pressure after the test from the air inserted during the exam, which could cause mild discomfort.
Will I need someone to drive me home?
Because you will be receiving medications that may impair your ability to operate a motor vehicle, it is the policy of Coastal Digestive Care Center, LLC that no patient will be allowed to drive a vehicle home; therefore, a responsible adult must be present to transport you home. If you are unable to obtain a ride home, your procedure will be cancelled and rescheduled.
What if they find something?
If a small polyp is found, your doctor will probably remove it. Over time, some polyps can become cancerous. If your doctor sees a large polyp, a tumor, or anything else abnormal, a biopsy will be taken. For the biopsy, a small piece of tissue is taken out through the colonoscope, it is sent to a lab to be checked under a microscope for cancer or pre-cancer cells. You will not feel the biopsy being taken.
Why are these tests so important?
Colorectal cancer screening is one of the most powerful weapons for preventing colorectal cancer. Removing polyps prevents colorectal cancer from ever starting. Nine out of 10 people whose colon cancer is discovered early will be alive 5 years later. © American Cancer Society, Inc.
What is my risk of developing colon cancer if I live in the United States?
Your lifetime risk (defined as life to 85 years old) is approximately 6% (male or female). Your risk is roughly doubled if one (1) first degree relative (parent, sibling or child) had colon cancer or polyps after age 50, and is higher if the cancer or polyps were diagnosed at a younger age or if more members of your family are affected. Other important risk factors include obesity, cigarette smoking, inflammatory conditions in the colon such as Crohn's, colitis and ulcerative colitis, and excessive alcohol consumption. Your doctor is in the best position to discuss whether your personal or family history suggests one of those conditions. © American College of Gastroenterology.
How often will I have to have this test done?
Your doctor decides how often you need this test, usually once every 10 years, depending on your personal risk for colon cancer.

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