Frequently Asked Questions

What are some warning signs to look for to detect a problem with the colon?

Warning signs may include abdominal pain, change in bowel habits, rectal bleeding, chronic constipation or diarrhea.

What is a colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is a procedure that enables a physician (usually a gastroenterologist) to look into and examine the inside of the colon (also called large intestine or large bowel). The endoscope is a long, narrow, flexible tube with a camera and a strong light at its tip. The endoscope is inserted into the anus and slowly advanced, under visual control, into the rectum and through the colon as far as the cecum which is the first part of the colon. The scope sends a picture to a monitor. Tools can be passed through the end of the scope and used to stop bleeding, remove polyps or take tissue samples. A colonoscopy is done for many reasons such as investigating blood in stool, abdominal pain, diarrhea, changes in bowel habits or an abnormality found on a colonic x-ray or CAT scan. Individuals with a personal or family history of colon polyps or colon cancer may be advised to have periodic colonoscopies because their risks are greater for polyps or colon cancer. Healthy individuals at normal risk for colon cancer should have a colonoscopy at age 50 and every 10 years thereafter, in order to remove colonic polyps before they become cancerous.

What is an upper GI endoscopy?

An upper GI endoscopy (or EGD) is a procedure that enables a physician (usually a gastroenterologist) to look inside your esophagus, stomach and first part of your small intestine. The endoscope is a long, narrow, flexible tube with a camera and a strong light at its tip. The endoscope is passed down your throat into your stomach and small intestine. The scope sends a picture to a monitor. Tools can be passed through the end of the scope and used to stop bleeding, remove polyps or take a tissue sample. An upper GI endoscopy can help diagnose causes of bleeding, cancer, gastritis, growths and ulcers. It may also detect a type of bacteria that causes ulcers, H. pylori.

How long does a procedure take?

The actual EGD procedure takes 20-30 minutes and a colonoscopy procedure takes 30-40 minutes. From arrival to discharge, you will be in the endoscopy center approximately 2 hours.

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?

IBS is called a “syndrome” because there may be a pattern of symptoms like abdominal pain, constipation, gas, diarrhea that may cause discomfort in several areas from your esophagus, to your stomach, small bowel and colon. When the rhythmic muscular contractions of digestion are disrupted, IBS symptoms occur. IBS is considered a functional disorder because the digestive tract is not working in an orderly fashion. Individuals experiencing IBS have been shown to have hyperactive intestines that may over respond to some medications, digesting meals and stress. The most common symptoms include dull, sharp, steady, cramp like abdominal pain, constipation, bloating, gas, heartburn, belching and nausea.

What is ulcerative colitis?

Ulcerative colitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). There are no known causes of IBD. Symptoms of the disease, such as frequent or loose bowel movements, urgency (feeling you need to have a bowel movement now), severe straining with bowel movements, rectal pain that comes and goes and rectal bleeding, can be treated. Tests for the disease may include: blood or stool tests, a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy, a biopsy of tissue from colon and x-rays.

What is an ulcer?

An ulcer in the digestive tract is like an open sore where the top layer of tissue is gone and the sore is hollowed out resembling a crater. Most ulcers can heal by themselves, some don’t and get worse. Common types of ulcers are: Gastric (stomach) ulcers and duodenal (small intestine) ulcers. Common symptoms are belching, bloating and intolerance to fatty foods. Sometimes nausea and vomiting occur. Duodenal ulcers area associated with upper abdominal pain described as burning or cramping and occurs after meals.

What is GERD?

GERD (or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) occurs when a small valve called the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES) leaks and digestive fluids and stomach acid back up from the stomach causing irritation in the esophagus. GERD can also cause damage to the lining of the esophagus and can lead to more serious problems. Common symptoms of GERD include heartburn (often occurring after meals), burning sensation behind the breastbone, regurgitation of gastric acid and difficult or painful swallowing.

What is an ERCP (Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography)?

An ERCP is a procedure that looks inside the ducts that connect the liver, gallbladder and pancreas to the duodenum (first part of the small intestine). It is used to find the source of pain, locate and treat blockages, remove gallstones and locate pancreas problems. A long scope is passed down your throat to the ducts. The scope sends a picture to a monitor. Tools can be passed through the scope and used to clear blockages, clear stones and inject dye. The test is used with x-rays that shows they dye outlining the ducts.

What is hepatitis?

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. There are several types of hepatitis: A, B, C, D, and E and are all caused by viruses. The virus causes inflammation and damage to liver cells. Acute Hepatitis lasts from a few weeks to a few months. Chronic Hepatitis is long lasting and can lead to severe liver damage. A liver biopsy test checks for liver disease which is useful for finding out the cause and amount of liver damage.

What is colorectal cancer?

‘Colorectal’ refers to the colon and rectum, which make up the large intestine. Cancer can start anywhere in the large intestine. The majority of this type of cancer starts out as abnormal growths, or polyps, in this area that may become cancerous over a long period of time. If left untreated, malignant (cancerous) cells can spread to other areas in the body.