Contributed by Dr Wong Nan-Yaw, Colorectal Surgeon. Colorectal cancer is the most common cancer in Singapore and it affects both genders. That is why a colonoscopy is important. Colonoscopy is a fast, safe and accurate way to screen for early colorectal cancers, and it is highly recommended for people over the age of 50, or those with a family history of colorectal polyps or cancer. The good news is, it is less of a hassle than you might think. A colonoscopy has minimal downtime. In fact, some patients even return to work after their colonoscopy! If you’re considering your first colonoscopy, here’s what you can expect:
1) Initial consultation
As with all medical procedures, you will need to undergo an initial consultation. During this consultation, your surgeon will go through your medical history and ensure that it is safe for you to undergo a colonoscopy.
You will need to go on a low-fiber diet 3 days prior to your colonoscopy. You will also be given a bowel cleansing solution, which can be in the form of liquid or powder. All you have to do is dilute the liquid, or mix the powder with water, and consume them over 3-4 hours. Clearing your bowels is important, as it helps your surgeon to inspect your colon clearly and carefully.
3) The colonoscopy
Your colonoscopy will most likely be scheduled in the morning. You should drink a glass of water upon waking up, but avoid milk or solid foods. Sedatives will be given, and once you’re comfortably asleep, your surgeon will begin the colonoscopy. The actual procedure will only take between 15–20 minutes. There will be a period of observation after the colonoscopy, and you will be discharged after, on the same day. This entire process will take about 3 hours and you will be able to resume your diet and physical activities after. Many people will also wonder if there are any possible complications of colonoscopy. A colonoscopy is a safe procedure, and complications are extremely rare. Nonetheless, there has been two possible complications reported—perforation and over sedation. Perforation can happen if the surgeon attempts to excise a large polyp in an area where your intestinal walls are thin. Should this happen, an immediate surgery is arranged, and the problem is usually rectified. The possibility of perforation happening is very low, approximately 1 in 8,000 cases.
Over sedation can happen if too much sedation is used, causing respiratory issues. However, you can be assured that doses are very carefully calculated based on body weight, and trained nurses constantly and closely monitor the patient. This means that over sedation is extremely rare as well. If you are over 50 years of age, or have a family history of colorectal cancer, please consider going for a colonoscopy. It only takes a simple test in 3 hours to attain a peace of mind. Furthermore, up to a maximum of $1,250 can be claimed from Medisave for the procedure.
Considering your first colonoscopy? Call us today at +65 6679 7867 and speak to our friendly medical concierge to make an appointment. Alternatively, you may prefer to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org