Four Questions You Should be Asking Your Gastroenterologist

No one ever looks forward to a colonoscopy. But if you have to have one, you want to make sure it’s a high quality procedure that produces conclusive results. Research has shown that not all colonoscopies are created equal, which means it’s wise to shop around for a skilled gastroenterologist to perform your colon screening. Neil Gupta, M.D., M.P.H., Director of Endoscopy at Loyola University Health System, recommends asking these four critical questions to your gastroenterologist:

What is your adenoma detection rate?
The purpose of a colonoscopy is to search the entire length of the colon for the presence of pre-cancerous polyps called adenomas. An adenoma detection rate is a percentage that indicates how often a physician detects adenomas during screening colonoscopies. For example, if a physician detects adenomas in half of the screening colonoscopies he performs, his adenoma detection rate will be 50 percent. Research has shown that higher adenoma detection rates are indicative of more thorough procedures. Doctors with higher adenoma detection rates have patients who are less likely to develop colon cancer and are less likely to die from the disease.

While adenoma detection rates can vary based on patient demographics, patients should look for a physician with a minimum adenoma detection rate of 20 percent.

Do you split-dose bowel prep?
The traditional method of bowel prep requires patients to drink a gallon of bowel prep solution the night before the procedure. However, studies have shown that the split-dose method is more effective. With split-dose bowel prep, patients drink half the solution the night before the exam and the other half the day of the exam. This results in a more thorough bowel cleansing and provides the physician with optimal viewing during the procedure.

How would you rate my bowel prep?

Thorough bowel cleansing is crucial for a high quality colonoscopy, so you want to know that your bowel prep was sufficient. When you meet to discuss the results of your colonoscopy, ask your physician to rate your bowel prep using a scale of poor, fair, good or excellent. A rating of good or excellent indicates that your doctor had optimal conditions for a thorough screening. If you receive a rating of fair or poor, ask your doctor if it is necessary to repeat the procedure or schedule an earlier follow-up.

Do your follow-up recommendations meet current guidelines?

Medical societies have created guidelines for follow-up screenings based on patients’ medical history and colonoscopy results. Ask your doctor whether his recommendations fall within these guidelines. Timely follow-up screenings are the key to preventing colon cancer and ensuring your long-term health (Source: Newswise).

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