A polyp is a protrusion (lump) from the lining of the bowel. Some polyps are attached to the intestinal wall by a stalk, and look like a mushroom, whereas others are flat, without a stalk. Polyps, when found, are generally removed or sampled by the endoscopist as they may grow and cause problems later. Flat polyps are generally a little more difficult to remove.
Polypectomy is a relatively noninvasive procedure and is usually done along with an endoscopy or colonoscopy. A polyp may be removed in one of two ways, both using an electrical current known as diathermy.
For large polyps a snare (wire loop) is placed around the polyp, a high-frequency current is then applied and the polyp is removed.
Flat polyps (without any stalk) can be removed by a procedure called EMR (Endoscopic Mucosal Resection). This involves injecting the lining of the bowel that surrounds the flat polyp. This raises the area and allows the wire loop snare to capture the polyp.
For smaller polyps, biopsy forceps (cupped forceps) are used. These hold the polyp while the diathermy is applied, therefore destroying the polyp.
Why Is Polypectomy Performed?
A colonoscopy or endoscopy is first performed to detect and examine the presence of single or multiple polyps in the colon. If polyps are present, these are removed by performing a polypectomy. The tissue removed will be examined to evaluate whether the growths are benign, precancerous, or cancerous. If detected early, this can prevent cancer of the colon.
Small polyps are not usually associated with any troublesome symptoms. If polyps are larger, they may cause problems depending on the site of origin like;
- Bowel irregularities
- Abdominal pain
- Rectal bleeding
How to prepare
To allow a clear view during the test, your bowel must be empty. Therefore it is essential that you follow the bowel preparation instructions.
It is important to increase your intake of clear fluids on the day before your test. You may drink water up to 2 hours before your test. A list of clear fluids is also given in the bowel preparation (MoviPrep) instruction leaflet.
What can you expect?
If you are diagnosed with having a polyp at any site in the body, your doctor may suggest you undergo polypectomy to remove polyps and relieve symptoms. The excised tissue is further examined to detect any benign or malignant growth. Your doctor will tell you the results in detail.
Possible side effects
The side effects or complications of a polypectomy are the same for a colonoscopy and can include rectal bleeding or perforation of the bowel. These complications are however rare. If you experience any of the following symptoms, contact your surgeon immediately:
- Severe abdominal pain (not cramp caused by wind).
- A sudden passing of a large amount of bleeding from your back passage (if a very small amount of blood, take no action).
- A firm and swollen abdomen.
- High temperature or feeling feverish.