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What’s a good colonoscopy? Part III

start of the colon as viewed during colonoscopy

Great questions from WBUR Boston NPR Reporter Martha BebingerWhats a good colonoscopy by 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 safety and cost:

“What’s the doc’s error or complication rate per 1,000 patients? I do not want to see blood afterward, although if the doc finds and snips a polyp, I suppose I will.”

    • Colonoscopy is generally considered a safe procedure, and the benefits of early detection greatly outweigh the risks for most patients. Your individual health should be considered for any medical procedure.
    • Physicians who have more experience and do an adequate number of exams are more likely to be good at removing polyps of different shapes and sizes – big ones, flat ones, depressed ones and clusters [read more here about polyp morphology]. However, it’s like the Kenny Rogers lyric, “you gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em.” Experienced endoscopists know when they need to “walk away” from what appears to be a very difficult removal and refer the patient to someone with even greater expertise.
    • And, yes, if you have polyps removed, you might see a small amount of blood. Follow the after-care instructions that you’re given just like you did for the bowel prep.

“One site says I should ask about the procedures for disinfecting equipment. Really? Isn’t flawless disinfection standard procedure?”

    • This issue received attention recently because there was a 2012 lawsuit in which a veteran won damages after contracting Hepatitis C from a dirty colonoscope.
    • Mistakes can occasionally happen, and infection in healthcare facilities is a complex problem that many are trying to solve. No matter what medical procedure you have, risks of infection are always a possibility, so you should consider your own health status when assessing your risks.
    • A high-definition colonoscope is a very expensive piece of medical equipment, and there are very specific protocols for cleaning, servicing and maintaining them in good working order. Hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers (ASC) have to be certified by local, state and national organizations. Following the manufacturer’s sterilization practices is one of many standard operating procedures (SOPs) in place for patient safety.

“And finally, I’ll ask how much each doc charges. I’m supposed to be looking for the best test at the best price.”

    • There are lots of variables that can affect the cost of a colonoscopy, and the most expensive exam isn’t necessarily the best. If you do a little research, you may be able to save some money, but be certain that you’re not sacrificing quality for that lower cost. But most importantly, don’t let the expense stop you from getting this life-saving test “behind you” (pun intended)!
    • You’ll likely spend more on car repair and veterinary bills each year than you’ll pay once every few years for this important test.

“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 I and II

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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