Frequently Asked Questions

1.   What is a Gastroenterologist?

Gastroenterologist is first trained as an Internal Medicine physician and then completes additional training for 2-3 years in the diagnosis and treatment of problems specifically related to the digestive system (the esophagus, stomach, small and large intestines, liver, gallbladder and pancreas). A gastroenterologist is also specially trained to administer tests used to evaluate digestive health disorders. Gastroenterologists also undertake a comprehensive exam administered by the American Board of Internal Medicine with emphasis in Gastroenterology. When the physician passes this exam, they are referred to as “Board Certified” in gastroenterology.

2.  How often do I need a colonoscopy?

The typical recommended starting age is 50 and repeating a colonoscopy every 10 years. If you have an increased risk for colon cancer, or have had previous treatment for colon polyps or colorectal cancer, the test may be done at a younger age and more frequently.

3.   What is virtual colonoscopy and how does it compare to conventional colonoscopy?

According to research, virtual colonoscopy is not ready for widespread use due to inconsistent results. In addition, should a virtual colonoscopy reveal polyps or other suspicious tissue, patients would then need to schedule a traditional colonoscopy and go through the preparation process twice. Because of these two issues, the American College of Gastroenterology continues to recommend traditional colonoscopy which they have deemed the “gold standard” of colon cancer screening.

4.   What are my options for colon cancer screening?

Professional guidelines emphasize the importance of a regular screening program that includes annual fecal occult blood tests (FOBT), periodic partial or full colon exams, or both.

5.    What is endoscopy?

Endoscopy utilizes a thin, flexible tube through which the upper digestive tract (the esophagus, stomach and first portion of small bowel) can be viewed on a computer or TV monitor. Aliments of the gastrointestinal tract are diagnosed more quickly though the use of endoscopy as opposed to x-ray which is not as reliable in finding disorders in the esophagus, stomach and intestines. Endoscopy also allows a gastroenterologist to treat problems found during the procedure in real time. Often, endoscopy can help a patient avoid invasive surgery.

6.    Is endoscopy safe?

Although all medical procedures carry some level of risk of complications, endoscopy has been proven to be very safe, with an overall low level of risk. Before your endoscopy your doctor will review the risks of the procedure with you so you can make an informed decision regarding the exam.

7.    Will I feel my procedure?

Gastroenterology Associates administers a pain reliever and a sedative to bring you into a state called “conscious sedation” during colonoscopies and endoscopies. We do not use general anesthesia for these procedures. These sedatives will not make you unconscious, but rather, put you in a pleasant, sleepy, relaxed dreamlike state in which you will not feel the procedure.

8.    How do I prepare for my procedure?

Specific preparation instructions will be given to you by the scheduling nurse. Each procedure has its own instructions and should be followed very closely so that you can have the highest quality exam.

9.    Will I need a ride home?

If you are having a colonoscopy or one of the endoscopic exams in which IV sedation is given, you will need a ride home. Although you will be awake when you go home, the medication leave you feeling a little tired and could compromise your ability to drive safely.

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Please contact our office to schedule an appointment or should you have any questions. We’re standing by and are dedicated to your digestive health.