What are Colonic Polyps?

Colonic polyps are growths that protrude into the lumen of the bowel. Polyps are usually removed because they can be the source of rectal bleeding or may contain cancer. Although the majority of polyps are benign (non-cancerous), some may contain a small area of cancer or may develop cancer if left untouched. Removal of polyps is therefore an important means of prevention of cancer of the large bowel (colon).

An illustration of a Colonic Polyps

An illustration of how Polypectomy is performed

What is Polypectomy and how is it performed?

Polypectomy means removal of polyps during colonoscopy. You should feel no pain during polyp removal. Small polyps can be removed by a biopsy forceps, which snips off small pieces of tissue. Larger polyps are usually removed by putting a loop, or snare, around the polyp base and burning through the tissue with electric cautery. Neither of these procedures is painful, and you will usually not be aware that they are being done. Rarely, if a polyp is too large it may require surgery for removal.

What are the risks involved in Polypectomy?

Polypectomy is very safe, but all procedures entail some risks. The most common complications of polypectomy include bleeding and perforation (creating a hole in the colon). Fortunately, although these are the most common complications of polypectomy, they are still infrequent. Bleeding can usually be controlled during colonoscopy. Surgery is usually required for perforation. Other complications have been described but occur much less frequently.

Dr. Andrea Rajnakova of Andrea's Digestive Clinic Singapore consulting a patient

Dr. Andrea Rajnakova of Andrea's Digestive Clinic Singapore

What forms of aftercare must I do after Polypectomy?

Some drugs, such as blood thinners (aspirin, clopidogrel, warfarin) promote bleeding during and post polypectomy. You should follow the instruction of the doctor regarding usage of these medication prior and post polypectomy.

After the surgery, you should consult your doctor about your tissue analysis (histology) results. This examines the polyps which were removed and helps determine when a repeat examination should be performed.

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