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Colorectal Diseases

Anxiety about colonoscopy



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.


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