A potentially lifesaving procedure
Colonoscopy is the most accurate, thorough and efficient way to detect colon cancer and, at the same time, to remove the growths (polyps) that sometimes become cancerous. Adventist Health Simi Valley's gastroenterology laboratory, better known as the GI lab, is a convenient, one-stop center for colonoscopy and other gastrointestinal procedures. The hospital's GI lab staff is one of the most experienced and qualified in Southern California.
When to get a colonoscopy
The American Cancer Society guidelines for colonoscopy suggest that men and women of average risk for developing colorectal cancer should get their first colonoscopy at age 50 and follow up with colonoscopies every 10 years.
However, people with any of the following risk factors should undergo screening earlier and/or more often:
- Personal history of colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps (polyps that are not yet cancerous but can become cancerous over time)
- Strong family history of colorectal cancer or polyps
- Personal history of chronic inflammatory bowel disease
- Family history of hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome
Your primary care physician will help you determine when it is time for you to have a colonoscopy.
The colonoscopy process
Step 1: Get an order for a colonoscopy from your physician. In most cases, physician offices schedule colonoscopies for their patients and notify them of the date and time.
Step 2: Prepare your body for the colonoscopy. It is necessary to clear the colon out completely so that it can be examined thoroughly. There are a few different approaches to accomplishing this important step. Your physician will choose the method that is best for you.
Step 3: On the day of your colonoscopy, check in at the desk in Adventist Health Simi Valley's emergency room lobby. We encourage you to pre-register online. You may also preregister by calling the admitting department at (805) 955-6122. Note that, even if you preregister online or by phone, you may need to briefly visit the admitting department to finalize your registration.
Step 4: Meet your nurse and get ready for the procedure. In the GI lab, you'll meet a member of the nursing staff who will stay with you throughout the rest of your procedure. The nurse will give you a sedative that will help you relax during the colonoscopy.
Step 5: The colonoscopy is performed. A physician specialist conducts the colonoscopy, assisted by an RN from the GI lab. During the procedure, the physician will look for polyps and other abnormalities along the entire five- to six-foot length of the colon. The physician can remove polyps during the procedure, which eliminates the chance that the polyps will ever become cancerous.
Step 6: You head to recovery. After the procedure, you will be transferred to a recovery area until you are completely awake, which typically takes approximately 30 minutes. The entire process in the GI lab requires only about two hours of your time.
For more information about colonoscopy or other procedures in Adventist Health Simi Valley's GI lab, call (805) 955-6390.