A colon polypectomy is the removal of polyps from the inside lining of the colon, also called the large intestine. A polyp is a mass of tissue. Some types of polyps can develop into cancer. Most polyps can be removed during a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy.
The purpose of the surgery is to remove a polyp. It is done to prevent colon cancer.
In rare cases, larger polyps can cause troublesome symptoms, such as rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, and bowel irregularities. A polyp removal will relieve these symptoms.
Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have a polypectomy, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
Your doctor will likely do the following:
Your colon must be completely cleaned before the procedure. Any stool left in the intestine will block the view. This preparation may start several days before the procedure. Follow your doctor's instructions, which may include any of the following cleansing methods:
Leading up to your procedure:
You will receive a sedative. This will help you relax. You will be drowsy but awake.
You will be asked to lie on your side or on your back. A scope, a long flexible tube with a camera on the end, will be inserted through the anus. It will be slowly pushed through the rectum to the colon. The scope will also add air to open the colon.
Using the scope, the doctor will locate the polyp. The polyp will be snipped off with a wire snare from the scope. In some cases, the polyp may be destroyed with an electric current. The electric current is also used to close the wound and stop bleeding. The polyps will then be removed for lab testing. When the doctor is finished, the scope will be slowly removed.
For larger polyps, a laparoscopic surgical procedure may be needed. Special surgical tools will be inserted through small incisions in the abdomen. The tools will be used to locate and remove the polyp.
The special cleaning solution, laxatives, and/or enemas often cause discomfort. During and following the procedure, there is little or no pain. You may feel pressure, bloating, and/or cramping because of the air passed into the colon. This discomfort will go away with the passing of gas. You may be given pain medication. If not, you can take over-the-counter pain relievers for discomfort.
The polyps will be sent to a lab for testing.
Be sure to follow your doctor's instructions, which may include:
Your doctor will discuss the results with you either the day of surgery or the following day.
It is important to monitor your recovery. Alert your doctor to any problems. If any of the following occur, call your doctor:
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
American Gastroenterological Association
American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy
Canadian Association of Gastroenterology
Canadian Digestive Health Foundation
Colon polypectomy (polyp removal). Dartmouth-Hitchcock website. Available at: http://patients.dartmouth-hitchcock.org/gi/colon_polypectomy.html. Accessed October 3, 2017.
Colonoscopy. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114112/Colonoscopy. Updated March 21, 2017. Accessed October 3, 2017.
Consolo P, Luigiano C, Strangio G, et al. Efficacy, risk factors, and complications of endoscopic polypectomy: ten-year experience at a single center. World J Gastroenterol. 2008;14(15): 2354-2369.
Treatment for colon polyps. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/colon-polyps/treatment. Updated November 2014. Accessed October 3, 2017.
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Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Daus Mahnke, MD Last Updated: 9/12/2014