What is Polypectomy?

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Polypectomy is the medical term for removing polyps. Colonic polyps are abnormal like growths that protrude into the lining of the bowel. Small polyps can be removed by an instrument called a biopsy forceps, which snips off small pieces of tissue. Larger polyps are usually removed by putting a noose, or snare, around the polyp base and burning through the tissue with electric cautery. Neither of these procedures is painful,and you will usually not be aware that they are being done. Rarely will a polyp be too large to remove by colonoscopy and require surgery for removal.

Polypectomy is very safe, but all procedures entail some risks, which you should discuss with your doctor. The most common complications of polypectomy include bleeding and perforation (creating a hole in the colon). Fortunately, although these are the most common complications of polypectomy, they are still infrequent. Bleeding can usually be controlled by colonoscopy, during which the bleeding site is cauterized, although surgery is sometimes required. Surgery is usually required for perforation. Other complications have been described but occur much less frequently.

You should follow your doctor's instructions carefully following polypectomy by not taking drugs known to promote bleeding (such as aspirin, Warfarin, and other pain relievers, which are blood thinning medications). In addition, you should follow your doctors instructions about finding out the results of the tissue analysis of your polyps and when a repeat examination should be performed.

What are polyps?

Colonic polyps are abnormal like growths that protrude into the lining of the bowel. Pedunculated polyps are attached to the bowel wall with a stalk, while sessile polyps have a broad base and are attached directly to the lining of the bowel. Whilst most polyps are benign some polyps have the potential to become malignant (cancerous) if left untreated.

What are symptoms of polyps?

Most polyps produce no symptoms and often are found incidentally during endoscopy or x-ray of the bowel. Some polyps, however, can produce bleeding, mucous discharge, alteration in bowel function, or in rare cases, abdominal pain.

How are polyps diagnosed?

Diagnosis of colonic polyps is by colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy and air contrast barium enema.  Research has demonstrated that removal of polyps dramatically reduces the incidence of subsequent colon cancer.  Polyps are removed using a procedure called polypectomy. 

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