Colonoscopy and Safety Considerations

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In Australia, statistics have found that the risk of being diagnosed with bowel cancer by age 85 is 1 in 11 for men and 1 in 16 for women, making it one of the most common cancers and the second biggest contributor for cancer deaths. The awful thing is that many of these deaths would have been entirely preventable if a screening took place beforehand, demonstrating why a colonoscopy should be something that should be considered by far more people. Sometimes, it is because people are concerned about the safety of the colonoscopy procedure itself – in this article, we take a look at how safety is related to a standard colonoscopy procedure, including any issues that may arise during or afterwards. 

What is a colonoscopy?

If you’re looking to get your colonoscopy in Adelaide, you should have some idea about what a colonoscopy entails (such as your general practitioner filling you in beforehand). If not, a  colonoscopy is basically a screening test that is used to find and prevent any signs of colon and bowel cancers. It is not only cancers that colonoscopies find, however – they are also ideal for determining the cause of gastrointestinal conditions, such as chronic diarrhea and constipation and rectal or abdominal bleeding. it is not necessary for people to get a colonoscopy when they’re younger, but people are generally recommended to get the test starting from the age of 45 or 50, with a test then being performed every 10 years thereafter. Although these tests are generally safe, patients should know that it is a procedure that isn’t free of risk, and there is potential for serious complications to arise. Even with this being the case, however, the chance of someone developing bowel cancer is much higher than the risk of complication from a colonoscopy.

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The potential risks associated with colonoscopies

Statistics have found that 0.28% of colonoscopies result in serious complications, which is significantly less than the 1 in 11 who might develop bowel cancer. this risk of complication rises in the event that a doctor removes a polyp during the test, as there is chance for intestinal perforations to occur as a result. These perforations are basically tiny tears in the rectum wall or colon that are caused by an instrument during the procedure. Small tears can be treated with rest and antibiotics, but large tears are often medical emergencies that require surgery. It is also possible for bleeding to occur in the intensities or bowel during the procedure – although this is usually nothing to worry about, if you continue to see blood in your stool for some days after or the flow of blood is significant, it may be a sign that something is wrong. Although very rare, it is also possible for a patient to experience a post-polypectomy electrocoagulation syndrome, which is caused by an injury to the bowel wall. It has the potential to then cause severe abdominal pain, rapid heart rate, and fever. 

More safety considerations

There are also other things to consider during the operation that may not necessarily be related to the surgery itself. For example, some patients have an adverse reaction to the anaesthetic that is administered. It is also possible for the procedure to pose a more significant health risk to people to people over the age of 75 – for this reason, colonoscopies are generally not advised, as the risks often outweigh the benefits as patients get older. 

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