Colon & Rectal Surgery

Rectal Cancer

Delta Medix Patient General Information

Colonoscopy and Signmoidoscopy

The colon is the large intestine. It is broken down into six portions after the small intestine ends. In order, they are the cecum, the ascending colon, the transverse colon, the descending colon, the sigmoid, and the rectum. The anus is not part of the colon and is where the colon ends and the stool is evacuated from the body. Benign polyps or cancerous tumors can occur in any segment. Diverticulosis and diverticulitis most commonly occur in the sigmoid portion. The colon can be affected as well by many other diseases.

A colonoscopy involves evaluation of the entire colon, and sometimes the end of the small intestine as well. A sigmoidoscopy is when the scope is only advanced a short distance to evaluate the rectum and sigmoid colon. If an abnormality is found such as a polyp, the surgeon may elect to take a biopsy and send it to pathology for further analysis.

Colonoscopies are usually performed under sedation in a surgical center or in the hospital. Sigmoidoscopies are often well tolerated without any form of anesthesia and can be performed in a doctor’s office, surgery center or hospital setting.

Colonoscopies require a bowel prep the day before the procedure for proper visualization of the inner lining of the colon. A patient is positioned on their left side and a small scope is inserted into the anus and the colon. The walls of the colon are visualized as the scope is advanced. At this time, if an abnormality or polyp is seen, it is biopsied or removed. When the polyp is small, it may be removed entirely. If the polyp is too large to remove or there is a mass present, a biopsy may be taken and the surgeon will then make the determination if the patient will need a surgical procedure to remove that area of the colon.

Patients have colonoscopies as part of routine screenings, but quite often symptoms may suggest a problem with the colon such as rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, constipation and diarrhea. Anemia, weight loss and fatigue may prompt a physician to order a colonoscopy to be done for a patient.

Colonoscopies and sigmoidoscopies are also useful in diagnosing conditions such as anal or rectal cancer, colon polyps, colon cancer, diverticular disease and proctitis.