Colonscopy prep may get all the complaints, but some patients feel that the gassy, bloated feeling after a screening for colon cancer or other colon-related diseases is actually a great deal worse. While advancements in prep materials have made getting ready for your screening easier, there is now also a significant improvement in avoiding the post-screening discomfort.
Dr. Gaston is now using carbon dioxide (CO2) during screenings to avoid the cramping and bloating during endoscopic exams. Previously, regular room air was used to inflate the colon, necessary during exams so a complete and thorough inspection of the colon lining can be made. It’s difficult for the body to re-absorb room air, so it may cause cramping, bloating and embarrassing flatulence for several hours after the exam.
Carbon dioxide, on the other hand, is absorbed into the body’s tissues and then expelled from the lungs when you exhale. There is significantly less stomach bloating and no need to pass gas.
Separate studies using 100 people and 300 people both showed that patients recover faster after carbon dioxide inflation, have reduced post-procedural pain at all points of recovery, and are released from medical care sooner. Using carbon dioxide had no effect whatsoever on the physician’s ability to perform the screening, or on the actual results of the screening.
Dr. Gaston has confirmed these studies with his own patients when using CO2. “Carbon dioxide is a naturally occuring gas. We use CO2 on our patients in the office and no one has complained of the usual stomach bloating or had to expel gas after the procedure was done. Recovery times were shorter than with room air and patients were discharged to home faster.”
If you are at an average risk of developing colon cancer, the American Cancer Society recommends beginning cancer screenings at age 50. Dr. Gaston will determine when you should have your next screening after reviewing the results of your first screening with you. Depending upon what Dr. Gaston was able to identify and remove, polyps or stage 1 cancer, he may recommend returning annually, returning in five years, or returning in 10 years.
When colon cancer is a factor in your family medical history, if you are African-American, or if you have an inflammatory bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis, IBS or Crohn’s disease, ask to your primary care physician for a recommendation about when to begin your screenings. The American Cancer Society recommends high-risk patients start screenings at age 40 - and sometimes younger, depending upon when family members were diagnosed with colon-related cancers and conditions.
If you have questions about colon cancer or endoscopic screenings, please call Metropolitan Gastroenterology Consultants at 773-312-5932. We are always happy to help.