Polypectomy surgery is the next step following a colonoscopy procedure where your doctor has found abnormal growths or polyps attached to the lining of your large intestine. A polypectomy will remove the polyps from the inside of your colon and the specimen will then be forwarded to a laboratory for further testing to see if there are cancer cells present. It is normal to feel nervous about doing additional medical tests, but doing so means you are prioritising your health. Colon cancer can be prevented or treated successfully when discovered at an early stage.
Overview: What are polyps?
A colon polyp is an abnormal build-up of tissue that stems from the lining of the large intestine (colon). Polyps can grow in any part of the colon and their sizes can vary. These growths may be benign (harmless) or malignant (cancerous). Because some polyps are cancerous, doctors usually recommend polypectomy to remove them for examination. Undergoing polypectomy can help lessen the polyp’s risk of progressing into cancer.
Polyps are identified into three types:
- Adenomatous Polyps
- Hyperplastic Polyps
- Sessile Serrated Polyps
Adenomatous polyps — This type of polyps rarely progresses to cancer and is the usual kind of tissue growth that is removed from the colon.
Hyperplastic polyps — These polyps are tiny and are not cancerous.
Sessile serrated polyps — Polyps of this type have a higher risk of becoming cancer and all are normally removed.
How are polyps discovered?
It is not common for polyps to show any signs or symptoms. To know whether you have them or not, a screening colonoscopy is done to check the condition of the large intestines. Screenings are generally recommended for older adults who are 45 years and older. However, for individuals whose risk of developing colorectal cancer are higher, your doctor may recommend to undergo screening at a younger age.
Who are at risk of polyp formation?
Anyone can develop polyps, but there are people whose risk is higher. These are the factor that influence the increased risk of polyp formation:
- Family or personal history of polyps or colorectal cancer
- Older adults
Other possible triggers of polyp development are:
- Consumption of too much alcohol
- Consumption of too much processed foods and read meat
- Being overweight or obese
- Diet that is low in fibre
- Having no exercise at all
- Underlying medical conditions or diseases that affect the colon
Where to go for a polypectomy procedure?
Not all doctor who can perform a colonoscopy procedure is able to do polypectomy procedures, especially for very complex cases. To ensure that you are getting the right medical specialist for your colonoscopy and polypectomy procedure, find a gastroenterologist or a colon surgeon.
What are important questions that you should ask your doctor?
Having a talk with your doctor about polypectomy and what to expect from the surgery can give you peace of mind. Here are some questions that you can ask your doctor:
Before the procedure:
- Have you had the necessary training for polyps removal and treatment?
- Do you have experience in handling the removal of complicated and large polyps?
- How many colonoscopy and polypectomy procedures have you handled?
- Is polypectomy painful?
- What outcomes should I expect from the procedure?
After the procedure:
- Were all of my polyps completely removed?
- What were the types of polyps removed?
- Are there any signs of cancer in the polyps that were removed?
- Should the other members of my family undergo colonoscopy screening as well?
- Is there a need for a follow-up colonoscopy or polypectomy surgery?
What happens during a polypectomy surgery?
On the day of your polypectomy surgery, you will be given medications to allow your body to relax and avoid feeling any discomfort or pain when the surgery is done. You will be asked to lie sideways and a colonoscope, which is a long and thin flexible tube equipped with a small video camera and pin light at one end, is inserted into your rectum and navigated gently to reach the colon. Aside from enabling the doctor to see the inside of the colon, a colonoscope also helps in injecting and suctioning air into the colon, as well as allowing surgical instruments to access the internal parts of the bowel.
Once a polyp is located, it is immediately removed using a snare or a laser device along with the other tissue that surrounds it, if needed. These are then examined to see if there is any signs of cancer present.
If there are polyps that cannot be removed through colonoscopy, a polypectomy through open abdominal surgery can be done.
What to do after the procedure?
Polypectomy surgery is usually completed in under an hour. It is an outpatient and minor procedure, so you do not need to worry about having to take several days off from work. Once the surgery is finished, you will be given time to recover from the medication given at the start of the procedure. Any feeling of bloating, cramping, or gas can be expected. If there is no complication from the polypectomy procedure, you will be allowed to go home.
It is not advisable to eat a full solid meal after a polypectomy. Rather drink lots of hydrating fluids and foods that are soft and easily digested, such as:
- Baked or mashed potatoes
- Boiled or steamed sweet potatoes
- Clear broth
- Fruit juice
- Fruit smoothies
- Graham or saltine crackers
- Herbal juice
- Vegetable juice
Be mindful to avoid food and drinks that can irritate your recovering colon. Skip these foods and drinks for a day or two following your polypectomy surgery:
- Any food made from whole grains
- Any food with spices
- Beverages containing alcohol
- Dried fruit
- Fried food
- Meat that are tough ad difficult to digest
Are polyps and colon cancer preventable?
The risk of developing polyps that may lead to cancer may be reduced by doing the following:
- Add more fruits and vegetables to your diet
- Get regular exercise
- Lessen alcohol consumption
- Limit consumption of fatty foods, processed foods, and red meat
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Quit smoking
If you know that your risk of getting polyps or colorectal cancer is high, consider undergoing a colon screening earlier than the required age.
Alpine Surgical Practice
3 Mount Elizabeth #17-16
+65 6589 8927