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Complex Polypectomy FAQs

  1. What preparations are required for a polypectomy?
  2. Can I take my current medications?
  3. What happens during a colonoscopy?
  4. What happens after a colonoscopy?
  5. What if the colonoscopy shows something?
  6. Will I talk with the physician after the procedure?
  7. What are the possible complications of colonoscopy?
  8. What if I have other questions or concerns?

1. What preparations are required for a polypectomy?
Because a polypectomy is a colonoscopy procedure, you will follow written instructions for a colon prep (colonoscopy prep planner).

Written instructions for the colon prep (colonoscopy prep planner) include diet and laxative information. Please review this prep planner in advance. It is quite normal that you might experience some mild to moderate abdominal cramping for about 1-2 hours after the preparation. Rest, relaxation, Tylenol and the use of heating pad or hot water bottle will help reduce this discomfort. The colon must be completely clean so that your physician can evaluate the entire colon and not miss something important. Please follow the instructions of your prep planner closely and call if you have any questions. Failure to follow these instructions may cause the colon to not be clean enough.  If this happens you will be asked to reschedule the appointment.

You must arrange someone to drive you home after your procedure otherwise the procedure will be canceled. For further information about specific colon preps, view the colonoscopy preparation planners.

2. Can I take my current medications?
Written instructions for the colon prep (colonoscopy prep planner) include medication information. Please review this prep planner in advance, and bring a detailed list of your regular medications with you on the day of your procedure. The colonoscopy prep planner includes the following important medication instructions:

  • Warfarin (Coumadin): Contact the anticoagulation clinic or the provider managing your warfarin therapy at least 10 days prior to your procedure for specific instructions.
     
  • Plavix: Contact the provider managing your Plavix prescription 10 days prior to your procedure for specific instructions. Other medication instructions in your prep planner may include Ticlid, Persantine, Aggrenox;
     
  • Lovenox:  Contact the provider managing your Lovenox prescription 5 days prior to your procedure.
     
  • Patients with Diabetes:
    If you are followed by a provider outside Virginia Mason for your diabetes care, please call that provider for instructions on your medication changes for this procedure.
    If you are followed by a Virginia Mason provider for your diabetes care, please follow the diabetes instructions provided. 
     
  • Iron: Stop taking iron 5 days prior to the procedure.
     
  • Early morning: Take your usual prescribed medications, including blood pressure medicines, with a few sips of water.

3. What happens during a colonoscopy?
You will have a chance to meet with the doctor in the procedure room. He/she will discuss your concerns and explain the risks and benefits of the procedure. The doctor will then start putting sedation medication in your IV. This medication is given to relax you and allow you to rest during the exam.  Most people get sleepy, drowsy, relaxed and forgetful, but you will not become unconscious. It is not unusual for you to experience mild, brief discomfort in the form of cramps or gas-type pains.  If you are uncomfortable during the procedure, you can be given more medication if it is safe to do so.  The nurse will constantly monitor you and give you medication as you need it. The procedure takes about 15-40 minutes.

4. What happens after a colonoscopy?
You will spend at least 30 minutes in our recovery room and be allowed to rest and let any remaining air in the colon to pass out of the rectum. The nurses will monitor you while you are in recovery. You may be offered something to drink when you are awake. When you are awake enough to go home, you will be able to get dressed and leave. Even though you feel awake and alert after you leave the clinic, your judgment and reflexes will be impaired for the rest of the day. That is why you must have someone to drive or take you home and it is recommended that someone stay with you for the next several hours. You should be able to eat your normal diet when you return home. You will be able to return to normal activities the next day, unless your doctor gives you other instructions.

5. What if the colonoscopy shows something?
If your doctor sees any polyps or thinks that an area needs further evaluation, he/she will usually remove the polyp through the colonoscope. This tissue will be sent to the lab to be analyzed. Removing a polyp or taking a small biopsy will not cause you pain or discomfort. You will be notified of the biopsy results within two weeks.

6. Will I talk with the physician after the procedure?
Not necessarily. Your physician will write his/her findings and special instructions on  the post-procedure instruction sheet, and a nurse will go over all the findings and instructions with you. You will be provided with the phone numbers to call should you have additional questions.

7. What are the possible complications of colonoscopy?
Colonoscopy is generally safe procedure.  Research studies have shown that the complication rate is approximately 1 in 1,000. One possible complication is a perforation, or tear, through the bowel wall that could require surgery. Bleeding might occur at the site of biopsy or polypectomy, but it's usually minor.  Bleeding can stop on its own or be controlled through the colonoscope; it rarely requires follow-up treatment.  Some patients might have a reaction to sedative or complication from heart or lung disease.
Colonoscopy is about 90-95 percent accurate because of "blind areas" in the colon. It is important to not ignore new symptoms in the future. You may need another colonoscopy at that time.

8. What if I have other questions or concerns?
Our staff and nurses are available Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. They can be reached at (206) 223-2319.

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