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Colorectal Diseases

Anxiety about colonoscopy

11/21/2006

Question:

I am scheduled for my first colonoscopy screening in December. The instructional material I received in the mail describe possible complications of severe bleeding and a tear in the colon lining requiring major surgery!!! The prep involves taking 32 Visicol pills. According to the internet, these pills can cause severe kidney damage--and I`m reportedly at higher risk for this damage because I don`t regularly drink 8 glasses of water daily. Now my neighbor is telling me that less invasive screening methods have about the same ability to detect cancer as colonoscopy.

The instructions I received say that the doctor (whom I haven`t met) will answer all my questions before the procedure. But I`m so concerned that I`m about to cancel it.

Answer:

Please don't cancel your procedure based on information from your neighbor, and the internet. Call the physician with whom you have scheduled the procedure and discuss your concerns with him/her and the office staff. They are the best informed source of facts for you! And remember there are other ways to prep for a colonoscopy than Visicol pills. Finally, in experienced hands, the risk of major complication from colonoscopy is around 0.01%; your lifetime risk of developing cancer of the colon and rectum is 6%. Weigh out the odds, and go for your exam.

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Response by:

Janice Frederick Rafferty, MD Janice Frederick Rafferty, MD
Professor of Surgery
Chief of Colorectal Surgery Division
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati