As we enter the new millennium a vast New World of technology emerges in every field of science. In the world of gastro-interology, the latest technology is a procedure called a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy is a procedure that enables a doctor to examine the lining of the colon for abnormalities by inserting a flexible tube that is about the thickness of your finger into the anus and advancing it slowly into the rectum and colon. .
To the gastro-interology field, the colonoscopy was a dream come true. It provided a 'window' into the uncharted territory of a live human stomach. Before the radical new invention, doctors could only hypothesize to what was ailing their patient, but now they could actually see it. .
During a colonoscopy the doctor looks for several different abnormalities. Some of the most common things that the doctor looks for are polyps and diverticuli. .
Polyps are abnormal growths on the lining of the colon which vary in size from a tiny dot to several inches. The majority of polyps are benign (noncancerous) but the doctor cannot always tell a benign from a malignant (cancerous) polyp by its outer appearance. For this reason, removed polyps are sent for tissue analysis. Removal of colon polyps is an important means of preventing colorectal cancer. .
Polyps are removed in many different fashions according to size. Tiny polyps may be totally destroyed by fulguration (burning), but larger polyps are removed by a technique called snare polypectomy. The doctor passes a wire loop through the colonoscope and severs the attachment of the polyp from the intestinal wall by a means of an electrical current. The patient would not feel any pain during the polypectomy. There is a small risk that removing a polyp will cause bleeding or result in a burn to the wall of the colon, but that is very uncommon. .
Diverticuli are small pockets along the wall of the colon. These small pockets are mainly caused by a lack of fiber in the diet.