The most common symptom of colon cancer is having no symptoms at all. That’s why one group of experts has made it their mission to knock out any sign of disease before it can cause trouble. Our team is helping beat cancer every day thanks to one simple procedure – a screening colonoscopy. And when you choose to do your screening at one The Oregon Clinic, you’ll get the level of care and the peace of mind only a specialist can offer. Now, let’s get you scheduled with one of our experts.
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As one of the top referral centers on the west coast, and one of the largest in the nation, our board certified physicians are recognized leaders in caring for patients with diseases of the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon, rectum, pancreas, gallbladder, and liver. With state-of-the-art outpatient centers, we offer our patients cutting edge diagnostic and therapeutic procedures in a comfortable and compassionate environment.
Meet our Gastroenterologists
We get it: you don’t do this every day. Which is why we do everything we can to make screening easy on you.
Truth is, it is easy. You’re taking an important step in assuring a healthy you, so we do everything possible to make you as comfortable with the process as can be. And because you have chosen a specialist to do your screening colonoscopy, you can be confident in the results. Colonoscopies generally take between 20-30 minutes to complete. Intravenous medications are used to make you feel relaxed, and most people sleep through the examination. The sedative medications wear off quickly and you will be fully awake within 10-15 minutes after the procedure. With your safety in mind, we require you to have a driver who can take you home afterwards.
To ensure a clear viewing during your colonoscopy, steps are taken ahead of time.
Preparing for a colonoscopy starts days before your procedure. During this prep time, you may not eat any solid foods or consume any drinks or gelatin that contain red or purple dye. Clear liquids and broths are fine. Quick rule of thumb: if you can see through it, you can have it.
On the day before your colonoscopy, you’ll take a laxative to complete the cleansing process. Specific instructions will be given to you before the procedure.
About the Procedure
During your colonoscopy, our team puts your comfort at the top of their priority list.
Your anesthesia specialist will administer a sedative and monitor your vital signs. The anesthesia you receive will put you to sleep for the procedure.
Once you are completely sedated, your doctor will slowly insert the colonscope – a long tube with a small camera attached to the end. The tube also releases air to inflate your colon and give your doctor a clear view. If any growths or polyps are discovered, your doctor will remove or biopsy them.
After the Procedure
After your colonscopy, the anesthesia will wear off quickly. Once you are fully awake, your doctor and team will share the findings of your screening with you.
You will be released soon after you’re awake and have talked to your doctor, but for your safety, we require a driver present to take you home. Resting at home for the remainder of the day is recommended.
Colonoscopy enables your doctor to examine the lining of your colon (large intestine) for abnormalities by inserting a flexible tube as thick as your finger into your anus and slowly advancing it into the rectum and colon. Please ask your doctor about anything you don’t understand.
Your doctor will tell you what dietary restrictions to follow and what cleansing routine to use. In general, the preparation consists of either consuming a large volume of a special cleansing solution or clear liquids and special oral laxatives. The colon must be completely clean for the procedure to be accurate and complete, so be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions carefully.
Watch: The Top 3 Questions Answered About Colonoscopy Preparation:
Colonoscopy and polypectomy are generally safe when performed by doctors who have been specially trained and are experienced in these procedures. One possible complication is 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. Some patients might have a reaction to the sedatives or complications from heart or lung disease. Although complications after colonoscopy are uncommon, it’s important to recognize early signs of possible complications. Contact your doctor 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.
Your physician will explain the results of the examination to you, although you’ll probably have to wait for the results of any biopsies performed. If you have been given sedatives during the procedure, someone must drive you home and stay with you. Even if you feel alert after the procedure, your judgment and reflexes could be impaired for the rest of the day. You might have some cramping or bloating because of the air introduced into the colon during the examination. This should disappear quickly when you pass gas. You should be able to eat after the examination, but your doctor might restrict your diet and activities, especially after polypectomy.
Watch: The Top 3 Questions Answered About After a Colonoscopy
Your doctor might destroy tiny polyps by fulguration (burning) or by removing them with wire loops called snares or with biopsy instruments. Your doctor might use a technique called “snare polypectomy” to remove larger polyps. That technique involves passing a wire loop through the colonoscope and removing the polyp from the intestinal wall using an electrical current. You should feel no pain during the polypectomy.
Polyps are abnormal growths in the colon lining that are usually benign (noncancerous). They vary in size from a tiny dot to several inches. Your doctor can’t always tell a benign polyp from a malignant (cancerous) polyp by its outer appearance, so he or she might send removed polyps for analysis. Because cancer begins in polyps, removing them is an important means of preventing colorectal cancer.
If your doctor thinks an area needs further evaluation, he or she might pass an instrument through the colonoscope to obtain a biopsy (a sample of the colon lining) to be analyzed. Biopsies are used to identify many conditions, and your doctor might order one even if he or she doesn’t suspect cancer. If colonoscopy is being performed to identify sites of bleeding, your doctor might control the bleeding through the colonoscope by injecting medications or by coagulation (sealing off bleeding vessels with heat treatment). Your doctor might also find polyps during colonoscopy, and he or she will most likely remove them during the examination. These procedures don’t usually cause any pain.
Colonoscopy is well-tolerated and rarely causes much pain. You might feel pressure, bloating or cramping during the procedure. Your doctor might give you a sedative to help you relax and better tolerate any discomfort. You will lie on your side or back while your doctor slowly advances a colonoscope through your large intestine to examine the lining. Your doctor will examine the lining again as he or she slowly withdraws the colonoscope. The procedure itself usually takes 15 to 60 minutes, although you should plan on two to three hours for waiting, preparation and recovery. In some cases, the doctor cannot pass the colonoscope through the entire colon to where it meets the small intestine. Although another examination might be needed, your doctor might decide that the limited examination is sufficient.
Watch: The Top 3 Questions Answered About What Happens During a Colonoscopy:
Most medications can be continued as usual, but some medications can interfere with the preparation or the examination. Inform your doctor about medications you’re taking, particularly aspirin products, arthritis medications, anticoagulants (blood thinners), insulin or iron products. Also, be sure to mention allergies you have to medications. Alert your doctor if you require antibiotics prior to dental procedures, because you might need antibiotics before a colonoscopy as well.
Dr. Michael Sheffield Discusses Colon Cancer Screening
Patient Stories: Elise Thompson
I found the Oregon Clinic as a preferred provider through my insurance company. I had a coworker recommend them as well, so I scheduled my appointment. I had been procrastinating for years and decided that I needed to do it. And from the time I scheduled my appointment through the recovery, the entire team at TOC was incredibly well organized, very pleasant and made me feel so comfortable. They were right on time, I didn’t have to wait and the procedure was fast and easy. I will recommend this practice and procedure to any of my friends or family.
Patient Stories: Mike Aiello
My insurance company sent me a newsletter about colonoscopy and colon cancer and it really motivated me to have a screening. So I called to make my appointment. Other than the night before, it was so easy. From the time I came in it was just so nice, I thought this group is like a family. And they did a great job of keeping me calm. I was nervous, and everyone just made me feel so comfortable and at ease. It was such a fast procedure. From the time I came in to the time I left, it was only 50 minutes. It’s so easy and it’s really important. Everyone should do it and everyone should come to the Oregon Clinic.