Addressing common fears about colonoscopies & why you should get one this year
May 11, 2021
Whether you make resolutions or not, the start of a new year is a time when many people think about the months that are to come, including health-related goals. Getting a colonoscopy is something we know many people put off, but if you are age 50 or older, our best advice is to schedule an appointment for this year!
There’s no better place for a colonoscopy than “The Butt Hutt,” which is how our practice is affectionately known. You will be so proud that you did it, and we are almost certain that you will say what the large majority of our first-time patients say: “That was nothing, and I don’t know why I was so afraid!”
Why you should get a colonoscopy at The Butt Hutt
We perform over 3,000 procedures a year in our office clinic. About 70% of these are colonoscopies, while 30% are anorectal surgery and other outpatient procedures. All of our doctors have two board certifications, both in General Surgery and Colon & Rectal Surgery. Our nurses and staff are all certified in their respective fields, and our clinic is certified by the AAAASF (The American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities, Inc.), the gold standard in accreditation of ambulatory surgery centers.
Here are some of the benefits of AAAASF certification:
- Holds outpatient and office-based facilities to hospital standards
- Requires surgeons to be board certified and have hospital privileges for any procedure they perform
- Requires the use of anesthesia professionals for deeper levels of anesthesia
- Requires a safe and clean surgical environment that meets stringent standards
- Requires peer review (peer oversight) and tracks data for thousands of individual cases
- Works closely with facilities and provide help throughout the accreditation process
- Champions patient safety worldwide and has for nearly 40 years
The simple fact is that colonoscopies save lives. Colon cancers begin as benign polyps that can be removed during a colonoscopy to prevent colon cancer. All adults, male and female, should have a colonoscopy at age 50, sometimes sooner if there are additional risk factors (such as family history.) Newer recommendations released by the American Cancer Society recommend beginning colonoscopy screening at age 45.
Dispelling common colonoscopy fears
The #1 fear we hear from people facing their first colonoscopy is that they think it will hurt. People are worried that they’ll experience pain or have bleeding and other post-procedure effects. There is nothing about a colonoscopy that will hurt. The majority of our patients elect to have IV sedation. This means you are asleep during the procedure.
As soon as your colonoscopy is over, we stop the IV medicine, and you wake up without nausea, a hungover feeling, or any memory of what happened. After the procedure, most patients have no pain, bleeding, or any lingering effects.
Another aspect of colonoscopies that people often fear is having a private area of their body exposed. They are uncomfortable and possibly embarrassed by this, which is understandable. But you must remember that we perform colonoscopies daily, and it’s no big deal to us. We make every effort to protect your modesty by keeping you covered until the last minute. We only expose what we absolutely have to see. Then, we focus on what’s on the inside, not what’s on the outside.
Some people also put off having a colonoscopy because they are fearful of what we may find. But if there is a problem, we need to find it! We really look at colonoscopies not just as a diagnostic procedure, but also as a preventative one. By finding and removing polyps before they turn into cancer, we can prevent future problems. Polyps are removed at the time of your colonoscopy, and most of the time you have no after effects of doing this.
If we do find colon cancer at the time of your colonoscopy, we will likely obtain a biopsy and come up with a treatment plan. Colon cancer is very treatable and often curable when caught early. If we find it at a more advanced stage, it is still treatable, but much less often curable.
Lastly, people often fear the preparation for a colonoscopy. Many facilities prescribe prep that involves over a gallon of liquid you have to drink in a short period of time. But at our clinic, we rarely utilize this approach. We use a low-volume prep that typically involves a half gallon of a liquid of your choice, most commonly Gatorade. Because of this, the prep is not as bad as most people expect.
We hope you see that colonoscopies are not as bad as you might have thought. While no one is going to describe the process or procedure as fun, it’s a necessary part of taking care of your health, and one that could save your life. If you are ready to resolve to mark this task off your to-do list in 2020, contact us here.
Alabama Colon & Rectal Institute is centered around treating diseases of the colon, rectum, and anus
Alabama Colon & Rectal Institute (also known as the “Butt Hutt” around town!) has been in practice since 1990 as a free-standing, private practice located in downtown Birmingham, Alabama. We are known for our efficiency and patient care, in a more relaxed office-based setting. Our doctors are known regionally for their expertise and are active in teaching surgical residents and other physicians. We are also a major sponsor of The Rumpshaker 5K, a race that promotes awareness about colorectal cancer. Check out our website for more information, or give us a call to make an appointment at (205) 458-5000, or email us at [email protected].