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A Cooper Expert Explains How a Colonoscopy Can Save Your Life

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Abram Eisenstein, MD, recommends selecting a board certified gastroenterologist when having a colonoscopy. He also suggests that patients ask the following questions before scheduling the procedure:

  • How many years has the physician been doing the procedure?
  • How many colonoscopy procedures does the physician perform annually?
  • How long does the physician spend looking for polyps?
  • What percentage of patients are found to have polyps?

The preparation for the colonoscopy is generally considered to be “worse than the actual procedure.” Dr. Eisenstein says that the ability of the physician to see polyps depends upon their skill, but also very much on the quality of the preparation. The prep needs to be completed as directed by the physician—if not, it may be difficult to identify the polyps, particularly the “flat polyps” which don’t stick out from the wall of the colon.

Both optical (traditional) and virtual colonoscopies are available options, and both are performed at Cooper Clinic. Dr. Eisenstein recommends that patients talk with their physician about which test would be best depending upon their circumstances. The preparation for the tests is the same. The benefit of the virtual colonoscopy is that it doesn’t require anesthesia or someone to drive the patient home afterwards. The downside is that flat polyps can be more difficult to see with this method. And, if polyps are found, the patient then has to undergo a traditional colonoscopy in order to have the polyps removed. With the optical colonoscopy, if polyps are found, they can be removed immediately. But Dr. Eisenstein says technological and scientific advancements will continue to improve the virtual colonoscopy.

Cooper Clinic recommends a baseline colonoscopy at age 40 or 45, and certainly by age 50. If no polyps are found in the initial test, follow-up screening is recommended in 5 years. If polyps are found, the time between exams will vary depending upon the number and type of polyps found.

To schedule a Cooper Clinic comprehensive physical exam or colonoscopy, click here or call 972.560.2667.