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What’s a good colonoscopy? Part I

Whats a good colonoscopy by Martha Bebinger

Great questions from WBUR Boston NPR Reporter Martha Bebinger

In her recent blog post Ms. Bebinger poses several excellent questions, and we are answering them.

Here’s our perspective on questions related to the patients role and the physicians experience:

“About the prep – what will give me the best cleaning out with the least discomfort? There’s no point in going through all this if the doc can’t see what s/he is doing.”

We couldn’t agree more – the most important thing a patient can do, besides making the appointment, is being fully committed to the bowel preparation. There are many considerations when choosing the best bowel prep for your situation.

    • Every “body” is different, so different laxative formulations will work with different degrees of effectiveness. If you know a particular laxative has worked (or not) for you in the past, discuss that with your doctor.
    • Some pills and solutions are available over-the-counter (OTC) and some only by prescription (Rx).
    • Many doctors recommend a “split-prep” protocol, which has been shown to result in a much cleaner colon and a better quality of examination. A split-prep involves taking half the solution the evening before and half the morning of the procedure, and many patients have found this to be more tolerable than past protocols.
      Hot Tip: ask doctors if they’ve ever completed a bowel prep themselves? The ones that have done it tend to be more sympathetic to their patients experience.
    • Certain medical conditions (e.g., diabetes) can narrow the options, and the protocol needs to be followed carefully.
    • There is a “low-residue” diet that can be followed the day leading up to the actual bowel cleansing that has been found to be acceptable by patients.
      Fun fact: Ironically “low residue” foods are low in fiber (e.g., Wonder Bread). Personally, I gave them up a long time ago in service to better health, so it would be fun to eat them on “doctor’s orders” for a day.

“How many colonoscopies does the doc do each year? The avg., according to the ASGE, is 750. Again, more is better.”

Generally we agree that more is better, since experience counts. However, you may also want to be sure that they aren’t doing so many screening exams in a day that they don’t have time to do a thorough job.

“Shopping for a colonoscopy could take weeks – not including the procrastination factor.”

We urge you to get through this task. Once scheduled, there’s even an app to help you get through the bowel prep process: “Colonoscopy Prep Assistant”—it’s available for the iPhone and Android platforms.

Ms Bebinger: Let us know when you’ve completed your colonoscopy (via blog comment or Contact Us form) and we’ll send you a Good For You certificate of achievement!

Readers, followers, fans, etc. are also welcome to let us know when you complete your colonoscopy (via blog comment or Contact Us form)—we will send you a Good For You certificate of achievement also!

Ms. Bebinger asked 8 questions so here are Parts II and III.

To find a physician in your area trained to perform Third Eye Colonoscopy click here.


Debbie Donovan is in the marketing department and is editor of this blog. Part of each day is also spent sharing the myriad of things said about bowel prep, colonoscopy and colorectal cancer on the Third Eye social media channels. Deb ice skates and likes routines with fancy footwork and spins.

Jack Higgins, MD is our Chief Medical Officer and is a clinical contributor to this blog. Dr Jack, (as we like to call him) spent 25 years as a Family Practice physician and was clinical faculty at Stanford University and University of California, Davis. He’s an avid cyclist and regularly rides many of the famous trails in the Northern California coastal area.<<more>>

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