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Definition

A colon polypectomy is surgery to remove polyps from the colon (large intestine). A polyp is a mass of tissue. Some polyps can turn into cancer or cause other problems.

Most polyps can be removed during a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy.

A Colon Polyp
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Reasons for Procedure

Colon polyps are usually removed to prevent colon cancer.

Rarely, larger polyps can cause rectal bleeding, belly pain, and bowel problems. A polyp removal will ease these symptoms.

Possible Complications

Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:

  • Problems from anesthesia
  • Excess bleeding
  • A tear in wall of colon
  • Infection

Things that may raise the risk of problems are:

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

The surgical team may meet with you to talk about:

  • Anesthesia options
  • Any allergies you may have
  • Current medicines, herbs, and supplements that you take; You may need to stop taking them before surgery
  • Fasting before surgery, such as avoiding food or drink after midnight the night before
  • Whether you need a ride to and from surgery
  • Cleaning the colon

Anesthesia

The doctor will give a sedative. You will feel relaxed.

Description of the Procedure

A long, flexible tube called a scope will be used. The doctor will pass the scope into the rectum and then the colon. The scope will pass air into the colon. It will create more space for the doctor. A camera on the scope will send images to a monitor in the room. The doctor will be able to see the walls of the colon as the scope moves through.

The doctor will look for polyps. A wire snap will be passed along the scope. It will snip of the polyp and seal the area. Polyps may be destroyed with an electric current. The electric current is also used to close the wound and stop bleeding. Any removed tissue will be sent for lab testing. When the doctor is finished, the scope will be slowly removed.

For large polyps, a laparoscopic surgery may be needed. In this procedure, tiny tools will be inserted through small cuts in the belly and the colon. The tools will be used to find and remove the polyp.

How Long Will It Take?

30 to 60 minutes

Will It Hurt?

There may be some cramping or lower belly pain during the procedure. Medicine will help ease discomfort. Some will sleep through the procedure. Gas pains and cramping are common after. These pains should go away with the passing of gas.

Post-procedure Care

At the Care Center

It will take an hour or so to recover from the sedative.

At Home

For 3 to 4 days after surgery, there may be a small amount of bleeding from the rectum.

Tea, coffee, cola drinks, alcohol, and spicy foods should be avoided for a few days. They can irritate the digestive system.

Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor if you have:

  • Excessive bleeding, pain, or discharge from the rectum
  • Black, tarry stools
  • A hard, swollen, or painful belly
  • Signs of infection, such as fever and chills
  • Severe nausea or vomiting
  • Inability to pass gas or stool
  • Chest pain or trouble breathing

If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.

RESOURCES:

American Gastroenterological Association
http://www.gastro.org

American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy
https://www.asge.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Association of Gastroenterology
https://www.cag-acg.org

Canadian Digestive Health Foundation
http://www.cdhf.ca

REFERENCES:

Colonoscopy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/procedure/colonoscopy. Accessed February 15, 2021.

Gangireddy VGR, Coleman T, et al. Polypectomy versus surgery in early colon cancer: size and location of colon cancer affect long-term survival. Int J Colorectal Dis. 2018;33(10):1349-1357.

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. Accessed February 15, 2021.

Last reviewed January 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Chelsea Skucek, MSN, BS, RNC-NIC  Last Updated: 02/15/2021