Colon polyps are small growths that form on the lining of the large intestine (colon). There are several types of colon polyps. Some of them can turn into colon cancer. However, most colon polyps are harmless.
The removal of colon polyps is called a polypectomy. They are usually removed using a colonoscope, the instrument used during colonoscopies. If the polyp is small, it is snipped and the tissue is removed. If a polyp is a bit larger, they are removed with a wire loop that cauterizes the removal site to prevent bleeding. We recommend that all patients having a colonoscopy give us permission ahead of time to remove polyps if they are discovered.
In rare cases, colon polyps may be too large to remove during a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy. These polyps are removed during minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery.
If you are having a polypectomy with a colonoscope, then you need to prepare for the procedure the same way you would a colonoscopy. You’ll need to follow your doctor’s instructions on when to stop eating and drinking as well as how to flush the bowels.
You will be sedated for the procedure monitored by anesthesia. The colonoscopy is done by inserting a flexible lighted tube into the rectum to examine the lining of the large intestine. With the most advanced technology and medications, the patient will likely feel no pain or discomfort throughout the entire procedure.
The physician will remove the colon polyps during the procedure. Depending on the size of the polyp, the removal will be done with cold forceps or hot forceps. The hot forceps cauterize the removal site to burn away any remaining polyp tissue and prevent bleeding. They may also take tissue samples. The specimens will be sent to the pathologist for examination under the microscope. Biopsies are not painful.
Complications of polypectomy are rare and the risk associated with having colon polyps removed is low. Some rare complications include perforation, bleeding, and infection.
For most polypectomies, you can expect recovery to be the same as it is for a regular colonoscopy. The sedation medication may make you feel sleepy for several hours after the exam. Do not plan to return to work, drive or sign any legal documents for the remainder of the day.
You may feel some bloating for about 30-60 minutes after the exam. We recommend walking around to assist in passing gas to relieve discomfort. You may begin eating after leaving the office. We recommend eating light foods that are not too greasy or heavy.
After the colon polyps are removed they are sent to a lab to check for precancerous cells. A nurse will contact you in 7-10 business days with the pathology results.
All patients must have a driver who is over the age of 18 to drive them home from their procedure. The driver MUST remain in the building and stay on-site for the entire duration of the procedure.