A colonoscopy is a safe, effective method to examine the colon (large intestine). While the patient is sedated, Dr. Levy uses a thin, flexible tube called a colonoscope, equipped with a light and tiny camera on one end, to look inside the rectum and the lining of the colon. A colonoscopy can show ulcers, irritated and swollen tissue, and polyps, extra pieces of tissue that grow on the lining of the intestines and sometimes progress to colon cancer. Most polyps can be biopsied (removed) during a colonoscopy. The biopsies are sent for microscopic evaluation by a trained pathologist to determine if they contain any abnormal cells.
Your physician may recommend a colonoscopy if you have changes in bowel habits (constipation, diarrhea), blood in your stool, unusual abdominal pain, unexplained weight loss, a history of colon polyps or a history of colon cancer in your family, or if you suffer from inflammatory bowel disease (colitis) or Crohn’s disease.
Catch Colon Cancer Before It Starts!
A colonoscopy is the most effective colon cancer screening tool available.
We know that most people don’t look forward to having a colonoscopy, but it is a safe, effective procedure – and it can save your life! Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the U.S. Approximately 150,000 new cases of colorectal cancer are diagnosed every year in the United States and nearly 50,000 people die from the disease. The good news is that when detected in its early stages, colon cancer is also one of the most treatable and preventable cancers. If the cancer spreads outside the colon, survival rates are much lower.
Research has confirmed that the single best prevention for colon cancer is the early detection and removal of colon polyps, even before there are symptoms. Using a colonoscopy, physicians can locate and remove pre-cancerous polyps before they develop into cancer.
Why Choose US
Dr. Levy has a colonoscopy pre-cancer detection rate (ADR) that far exceeds national guidelines. This means that when Dr. Levy performs a colonoscopy, he finds and removes more pre-cancerous colon polyps than is expected based on recommended guidelines, making him a great choice for patients who want a screening colonoscopy, have a history of cancer, or have a family history of colon cancer.
Who Needs Colon Cancer Screening
Anyone can get colorectal cancer, and it affects both men and women equally. In its early stages, colon cancer shows no symptoms. This is why it’s so important to get screened even if you feel fine. For patients without a family history of colon cancer or advanced polyps, The American College of Gastroenterology recommends screening colonoscopies for every adult beginning at age 50 and at age 45 for African-Americans. For those with a family history of the disease, or other risk factors, screening could start earlier. For example, if a close family member, like a parent, was diagnosed with colon cancer at age 45, the children of those parents should get screened at age 35 – 10 years before the age of their parent’s diagnosis.
You may also need to be tested earlier than age 50 or more often if you have Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, or genetic syndromes such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (Lynch syndrome).
Are you at risk? Take our colorectal risk assessment survey below to find out.
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Preparation for Colonoscopy
Most medications can be continued as usual, but some medications can interfere with the preparation or the examination. Before your colonoscopy, you will need to discuss any medications you’re taking with Dr. Levy, particularly aspirin products, arthritis medications, anticoagulants (blood thinners), insulin or iron products— or if you have any special medical conditions, including diabetes, pregnancy, lung or heart conditions. Also let us know if you are allergic to any medications.
The preparation involves going on a clear liquid diet for 24 hours prior to the procedure. For 3 days prior to this, you will be on a low residue diet. The night before the procedure, you will be prescribed a liquid solution that you drink. You will be given advice on taking regular medications during that time. Your colon must be completely empty for the colonoscopy to be accurate and complete so it is important to follow instructions carefully. Our staff will go over detailed instructions with when you schedule your colonoscopy.
What to Expect
On the day of the procedure you will be sedated by an anesthesia provider to keep you asleep and comfortable for the procedure. During the procedure, you will lie on your left side on an examining table and the physician will insert the colonoscope into the rectum and gently move it through your colon. Air is inflated into the colon through the scope to allow visualization. Instruments are inserted as needed to take biopsies or remove polyps. After the procedure, you may experience a little discomfort, like the feeling of having gas, but that soon subsides. The entire procedure usually takes less than 30 minutes, although you should plan on one to two hours for waiting, preparation and recovery.
After your procedure Dr. Levy will explain the findings to you (or your companion). If a biopsy was performed or a polyp removed, you should get the results in 1-2 weeks. You will be contacted by phone by one of our nurses. Dr. Levy may give you other special instructions as well. Even though you should feel fine, you must have someone else drive you home after the procedure because of the sedatives. You should not drive, operate heavy machinery or make important decisions for up to 12 hours after your procedure.
You might have some cramping or bloating because of air that is introduced into the colon during the examination. This should disappear quickly when you pass gas. Most people can resume their regular diet later that day.
Complications Are Rare
Complications are uncommon but may include a perforation, or tear, through the bowel wall that could require surgery. Bleeding might occur at the site of biopsy or polypectomy, but it’s usually minor. Bleeding can stop on its own or be controlled through the colonoscope; it rarely requires follow-up treatment. Injury to the spleen can occur. Some patients might have a reaction to the sedative agent or breathing problems related to the sedation.
Although serious complications from this procedure are very rare, contact us immediately if you notice severe abdominal pain, fever and chills, or rectal bleeding of more than one-half cup. Note that bleeding can occur several days after the procedure, especially if a large polyp was removed. Also understand that no procedure or test is perfect. There is a small possibility of missed polyps, and less likely, missed cancer with colonoscopy. For this reason, if your physician finds polyps, a repeat colonoscopy is recommended sooner than a patient who had a normal exam. If symptoms develop or continue despite colonoscopy, please see your physician for evaluation.
Take charge of your health.
Talk to your physician about scheduling a screening colonoscopy. 478-464-2600 option 2
This content is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Dr. Levy is a very knowledgeable and highly skilled physician.
Dr. Levy improved my quality of life so much! He is friendly, down to earth and takes more time with me than other gastroenterologists that I have dealt with. The care I’ve gotten from him changed my life. Under his care, I went from not being able to eat solid foods for a year to being able to eat normal foods I enjoy. I can tell he cares and I'm not just another patient. I’m so grateful to Dr. Levy!
Dr. Levy is unbelievable! My cardiologist insisted that I see Dr. Levy for my colonoscopy and I’m glad I did. His knowledge gave me a lot of confidence in what I was facing since I have inflammatory bowel disease. His caring and compassionate ways make him different from other physicians I’ve seen. He is kind, gentle, caring, and not pushy. His staff is excellent, and the Endoscopy Center was more efficient and personal than having my procedure at the hospital. I would recommend Dr. Levy to any friend or doctor.
Dr. Levy goes above and beyond to provide excellent care. I was very sick and getting worse, and with his knowledge and persistence he diagnosed a rare vascular condition called median arcuate ligament syndrome (MALS). This allowed me to find a specialist and cure my condition. Dr. Levy actually listened to me, did a full work-up, and took the time to research my case. Since seeing Dr. Levy, I haven’t had any issues. I felt comfortable talking with him and I knew he would do whatever it took to help me. I highly recommend going to Dr. Levy!