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Have you had your colonoscopy?
At the consultation
What is a colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is the examination of your entire large intestine with a flexible lighted tube with a camera mounted on it. If you have ever had : unexplained and persistent nausea, bloating and gassiness, stomach and abdominal pain, change in bowel habits, bleeding per rectum and blood in your stool, and unexplained weight loss, your doctor will send you for a few hospital tests of your digestive system. If the results are questionable, inconclusive or indicative of colon cancer, you will be sent for a colonoscopy to rule out or confirm colon cancer.
Colonoscopy is done by passing a 6ft. lighted, flexible tube inside the entire length of your large intestine, above the rectum and to the lowest part of the small intestine. The scope is about the circumference of your first finger. The camera mounted on it visualizes the colon as the tube is slowly pulled down its length. Photos may be taken if necessary. If any polyps are detected, they are removed with a snare passed up the scope. Any bleeding is stopped with a cautery.
The colon has innumerable folds all along its length in order to have enough surface for digesting, absorbing and excreting your food and waste. The camera in the colonoscope can only see the fronts of the folds and miss whatever may be hidden on the back of them - polyps, inflamed or bleeding tissues or ulcers. It is estimated that colonoscopy misses about 25% of adenomas.
The second leading cause of cancer deaths.
What is 'third eye colonoscopy'?
Because of the amount of adenomas missed by traditional colonoscopy, the third eye colonoscopy procedure was pioneered by Avantis Medical Systems Inc. of Sunnydale, California, in Silicon Valley about 4 years ago. This third eye retrograde colonoscope has a tip that turns back 180 degrees on itself when the scope reaches the top end of the colon.
As the scope is slowly moved downward, the camera in it, like a rear-view mirror, seeks out and detects polyps and other abnormalities on the back side of the colonic folds, the side missed by the regular colonoscope. It is estimated this procedure detects 23% more adenomas or polyps, thus raising the rate of early cancer detection and saving more lives each year.
Third Eye Colonoscopy
Preparing for a third eye colonoscopy.
The procedure time for both traditional and third eye colonoscopy are about 30 minutes. The preparation for both types of colonoscopies are the same,
You will get printed instructions for the prep from your gastroenterologist at your initial interview. Stop all blood-thinning medication 5 days before the procedure. Stop taking iron pills 5 days before as well.
The day before your colonoscopy, you will be on a clear liquid diet. This means liquids you can see through, like apple juice, ginger ale, jello, clear fat-free broth, black tea, black coffee.
The next part involves your complete colon cleanse and each doctor may prescribe his preferred laxative. Early in the afternoon, you will take 2 laxatives like Dulcolax. Follow this a couple of hours later with 4 liters of a fluid like Golytely, or maybe Miralax mixed in Gatorade. It all depends on your doctor's preferences. You will feel hungry and maybe thoroughly washed out.
On the day of your colonoscopy, present yourself at the doctor's center one hour before to be prepped by the nurses. You will receive IV medication for conscious sedation (you stay awake) to minimize discomfort. You are able to participate in the procedure and move yourself as needed to help the doctor. You will be lying on your left side and probably watch the TV screen of your examination unless you prefer not to. The doctor will explain what you see on the screen.
After the procedure, you will be kept in recovery at least 1to 2 hours before discharge. You must have somebody with you to bring you home because of the sedation you have received. Have a rest when you get home, hydrate yourself and eat when you feel up to it. It is all right to return to work the next day.
Where you can get third eye colonoscopy
With its increased rate of early cancer detection, third eye colonoscopy will probably become the standard of care in the near future. As it stands, it is still relatively unknown and few gastrointestinal health centers in the world practise it. In NY State, only Brooklyn Hospital and University of Rochester Medical Center have the trained doctors and the facilities for third eye colonoscopy. And in Connecticut, only Norwalk Hospital offers it.
Four other States that I know of at this time, June 2012, also use the third eye colonoscopy:
Texas: Memorial Hermann Southwest Hospital, Houston. This was the first ever hospital with this service.
Florida: Palm Coast Hospital Flagler, Palm Coast.
Arizona: Mercy Gilbert Medical Center, Gilbert.
Louisiana: Willis-Knighton Health System, Shreveport.
Benefits of early detection of colon cancer.
Colon cancer usually starts after the age of 50. That is why we start having regular colonoscopy from age 50. You would start earlier if someone in your family has had colon cancer.
Colonoscopy has saved countless lives through early detection of colorectal cancer. If non-cancerous polyps are found, they are removed before they become cancerous. If cancer does occur, early detection means early treatment and a good 5 year survival rate. of 90%. If the cancer is not found till it has spread through the lymph nodes, the 5 year survival rate drops to 12%. Treating early cancer is more cost effective than treating advanced cancer.
If you are in the high risk group
If you have a family history of colon cancer, you are in a high risk group. African Americans are also a high risk demographic, as are people with Irritable Bowel Diseases of any sort, like Crohn's. If you have had polyps at a previous colonoscopy, this places you in this group. You should have a colonoscopy every 5 years and oftener if your doctor thinks you should. Those not at high risk should go every 10 years.
Many people do not get it for various reasons. Embarrassment, ignorance, fear of pain, and most of all, inadequate health insurance or none at all. Medicare and the Affordable Care Act are now helping new beneficiaries to get preventive physical examinations but they must be done within one year of enrollment.
Make your appointment
States are authorized to cover colorectal screening for Medicaid clients, but there is no federal assurance of that without symptoms. Medicaid coverage varies state to state.
Many high profile people are helping to spread the message about colonoscopies, even to having their own colonoscopies publicized on TV. They help to take the embarrassment out of this important procedure. Katie Couric, the spokesperson for gastrointestinal health, said, 'Don't be embarrassed to death'. Her own husband died of colorectal cancer at age 42, and she is a passionate crusader for colonoscopy to save people from this dreaded disease.
If you are over 50 and have not started having this screening done, go find a provider of third eye colonoscopy and make your appointment. You just might save your own life.