It is a frightening examination, either because of the idea that I could be very painful, or because of its invasiveness. Fears and reticence related to colonoscopy, an examination of digestive endoscopy fundamental for the early diagnosis and prevention of any colon cancer, which is the second cause of death from malignant tumors in Italy and Western countries, can however be dispelled with the right information. We talked about it with Prof. Alessandro Repici, Head of the Operative Unit of Digestive Endoscopy at Humanitas and professor of Gastroenterology at Humanitas University, who clarified the many questions and misconceptions of patients.
The patient needs to know what to expect
The secret to stay relaxed when facing a colonoscopy is mostly one: to arrive prepared and know precisely what exactly will happen as well as how the test works. This is an invasive test that aims to observe the inside of the colon, released from feces and organic residues, to assess the presence of polyps or neoplastic lesions.
The importance of the intestinal cleansing
“If the patient does not perform intestinal cleansing correctly – said Prof. Repici – the doctors and endoscopists cannot see if there are polyps or other growths inside the colon. Especially when these are very small.
So how do you get there with a sufficiently clean colon? All you have to do is to do the cleaning correctly, which consists of taking a laxative drink prescribed by the endoscopist before the examination, carry out a diet free of fibre for at least 2 days before the examination and two liters of water a day at the same time.
The fake news of nutrition
“Among the fake news circulating about the preparation one is that related to the diet to be kept the days before the colonoscopy – said the doctor -: there are those who ask for information on diets more or less free of fiber, despite the fact that all studies tell us that the impact of the diet in the effectiveness of intestinal preparation is minimal, so we recommend a diet without fiber only one or two days before the examination and to drink at least one and a half or two liters of water a day.
Anti-agulants and removals
“Whoever takes cardioaspirin for the heart or to prevent ischaemic episodes, can continue to take it – has assured the specialist -. Contrary to what is believed there is in fact no contraindication to the taking of this medicine, even when it is necessary to perform the removal of a small polyp”.
All polyps can therefore be removed safely, except those with a very high risk of bleeding or which are very large. This has been demonstrated in several clinical studies, some of which have been conducted directly at Humanitas over the last 5 years.
“All the procedures of colonoscopy are performed with sedation – the professor has then reassured -, that is with drugs that remove discomfort and pain: our commitment is to perform a colonoscopy without pain and if necessary also through the collaboration of an anesthesiologist”.