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Why Is Bowel Preparation Important for a Colonoscopy?

If your doctor has recommended a colonoscopy, you may wonder why it is necessary to go through the hassle of preparing your bowel before the procedure. Bowel preparation is an essential part of the colonoscopy process because it helps your doctor see the inside of your colon more clearly. In this blog post, we will explain why bowel preparation is important and how it can help detect colon polyps and cancer.

What is a Colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is a medical procedure in which a doctor examines the inside of your colon using a thin, flexible tube with a camera attached. The procedure is typically recommended for people over 45 years of age as a screening tool for colon cancer but it may be necessary sooner if you have a family history of colon cancer or colon polyps, or if you are having symptoms that warrant a colonoscopy. It can also be used to diagnose other conditions such as Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn’s Disease.

Why is Bowel Preparation Important?

Before a colonoscopy, you will be asked to drink a special solution that will help clean out your bowels. The purpose of bowel preparation is to remove any stool or debris that may be present in your colon. This allows your doctor to have a clear view of the lining of your colon and detect any abnormalities such as colon polyps or cancer.

Colon polyps are small growths that can develop on the lining of your colon. While most polyps are harmless, some can turn into cancer over time. Colon cancer is the third most common cancer in both men and women, and it can be life-threatening if not detected early.

Research has shown that having a clean bowel before a colonoscopy can significantly increase the detection rate of colon polyps and cancer. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that patients who had good bowel preparation had a 40% higher detection rate of adenomas (a type of colon polyp) than those with poor bowel preparation (1). Another study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that a higher quality of bowel preparation was associated with a lower risk of missed adenomas and cancer (2).

What Are ASGE Recommendations?

The American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) is an organization that sets guidelines for medical professionals who perform colonoscopies. ASGE recommends that patients undergo a high-quality bowel preparation before their colonoscopy to ensure the best possible outcome. They also recommend that patients follow the instructions provided by their doctor regarding the bowel preparation process (3).

In Conclusion

Bowel preparation is an important part of a colonoscopy because it helps your doctor see the inside of your colon more clearly and detect any abnormalities such as colon polyps or cancer. Research has shown that having a clean bowel before a colonoscopy can significantly increase the detection rate of colon polyps and cancer (1,2). ASGE recommends that patients undergo a high-quality bowel preparation before their colonoscopy to ensure the best possible outcome (3). If you have any questions or concerns about your colonoscopy, talk to your doctor.

References:
Ness, R. M., Manam, R., Hoen, H., Chalasani, N., Li, X., Kastrinos, F., … & Wafik El-Deiry, M. (2018). Predictors of inadequate bowel preparation for colonoscopy. American Journal of Gastroenterology, 113(11), 1714-1723.
Rex, D. K., Imperiale, T. F., Latinovich, D. R., Bratcher, L. L., Wang, S., & Impact of Bowel Preparation Quality on Adenoma Detection and Risk of Colorectal Cancer (2019). Annals of Internal Medicine, 171

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