Colonoscopy

What is the colon?

The colon, or large bowel, is the last portion of your digestive tract, or gastrointestinal tract. The colon is a hollow tube that starts at the end of the small intestine and ends at the rectum and anus. The colon is about 5 feet long, and its main function is to store unabsorbed food waste and absorb water and other body fluids before the waste is eliminated as stool.

What is a colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy  is the most reliable method to view the entire colon.   It is an effective screening procedure to  detect most small polyps and almost all large polyps and cancers.   The procedure is also performed to help diagnose  causes of unexplained changes in bowel habits and to evaluate symptoms like abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, and weight loss.

Procedure

Your colonoscopy usually takes less than 30 minutes. Anesthesia medication will  keep you comfortable during the exam. During the procedure, you will lie on your left side on the examining table. Dr Curran, the anesthesiologist, and the endoscopy nurses will monitor your vital signs throughout  the procedure.

Dr Curran will insert the colonoscope into your colon. This scope transmits an image of the inside of the colon onto a video screen so that he can carefully examine the lining of the colon. The scope bends so it can move around the curves of your colon. Dr Curran withdraws the colonoscope slowly in order to carefully examine the lining of your bowel. Dr Curran can remove most abnormal tissue growths in your colon, like a polyp, which is a growth in the lining of the bowel. Most polyps are not cancerous, but some types can turn into cancer. Biopsied tissues and polyps are sent to a pathology lab for testing.

You may feel some cramping or the sensation of having gas after the procedure is completed, but it usually stops within an hour.  The amount of time in the recovery room after the procedure differs from patient to patient. Bleeding and perforation are rare complications of a colonoscopy. Typically, by the next day you are able to return to your regular activities.

Pathology  Pathology reports on polyps and biopsies can take up to 7-10 days to reach the office. All results are reviewed. This office calls only if a biopsy is abnormal and of concern. Your medical history, your family history and your colonoscopy results will determine your colonoscopy recall schedule.

The estimated time from drop off to pick up is approximately 3 hours. Occasionally, the time involved for a procedure is unpredictable and may cause the endoscopy suite schedule to run behind. In such an instance your patience and understanding are appreciated.

Patients with an HMO, PPO or commercial insurance should know and understand your colonoscopy coverage.  Please  refer to our office “Know Your Insurance Benefit Colonoscopy” sheet. If you are having the colonoscopy for screening purposes, (having no problems only having the exam for preventive purposes), verify that a screening colonoscopy is a covered benefit. If you are having your colonoscopy because you are experiencing a medical issue such as rectal bleeding, constipation, diarrhea etc, verify that a diagnostic colonoscopy is a covered benefit. If you find your insurance does not cover your particular colonoscopy, please contact the office prior to your procedure.

If your insurance requires a referral, make sure to contact your PCP and request that a referral be submitted to your insurance company for the date of your procedure.  Without an active referral on file, your colonoscopy may need to be rescheduled or become your financial responsibility.

ATTENTION ALL UNITEDHEALTHCARE SUBSCRIBERS:  If you have a United Health Care Plan you may require an insurance authorization or insurance approval for your colonoscopy.  Your insurance may also direct you to the facility where your policy will cover your procedure regardless of your physician affiliation or your choice of facility.   Call your customer service dept. (phone number should be on the back of your insurance card. Tell the representative you are having a colonoscopy that will be billed using CPT code 45378 or 45380 or 45385 (depending upon findings at the time of your colonoscopy) and ask if your policy requires a UnitedHealthCare insurance prior authorization.  Also tell the representative the facility where your procedure is scheduledDr. Curran does procedures at Charles River Endoscopy Center which is a free standing ambulatory center or UMass Marlboro Hospital Outpatient Endoscopy Center or Marlboro Hospital Outpatient both hospital based facility. Please then contact Doreen at my office with the customer rep responses as your appointment will need documentation that an authorization for the procedure and place of service is or is not required. If authorization required, Doreen will then contact your insurance for the authorization necessary to confirm the date and place of your appointment and to submit a claim for your colonoscopy.

Your colonoscopy brings together an endoscopy team that provides you the best possible care available.  If you are not able to keep your procedure appointment we request at least a 72 hour notice.   Less than 72 hours may result in a $50 cancellation fee.