For many, the idea of going through a colonoscopy is daunting. You may have heard stories from friends or families who went through a colonoscopy, or the mere thought of placing a scope into your body may not sound attractive at all.
But did you know that a colonoscopy is one of the safest medical procedures in the world?
A colonoscopy investigates the large intestine together with the rectum and anus. It is done using a camera mounted at the end of a thin, flexible tube. Samples of the large intestine can be taken for tests if there are any growths or unusual findings.
Through a colonoscopy, doctors can detect, test, and remove polyps present in the colon. Polyps are caused by the unusual growth of cells that multiply to form a new cluster that grows into a lump in the body.
When found in the colon and untreated, these polyps carry a small risk of mutating into cancerous growths, causing colorectal cancer.
Here Are Your Top 5 Colonoscopy Questions Answered:
What Goes on During a Colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is usually conducted in a specialised location called the endoscopy centre.
Before the procedure, anaesthesia will be administered to allow you to relax and go to sleep. The entire procedure will last approximately 30 to 60 minutes.
Our doctor will insert a colonoscope through the anus during the procedure and move slowly up towards the other end of the large intestine.
A colonoscope is a long, flexible tubular instrument mounted with a camera that allows for images to be transmitted to the doctor through a screen as they examine your colon for signs of abnormalities.
The colonoscope is flexible, allowing our doctor to look around the entirety of the colon and inspect for signs of growth or lumps within the colon. If the presence of abnormalities is observed, our doctor may opt to do two things:
- Our doctor may remove a part or small amounts of tissue observed within the colon that is abnormal for testing. This process is known as a biopsy.
- If polyps or abnormal growths are identified inside the colon, our doctor will also identify these growths and remove them.
Through colonoscopy, doctors can perform a more precise diagnosis and treatment of possible conditions that they observe without requiring you to undergo a major operation.
After the procedure, the colonoscope is retracted from the rectum, and you will be left to recover from the sedation before going through a review with our doctor.
How Long Does a Colonoscopy Procedure Take?
A colonoscopy is performed by our doctor in the endoscopy centre. The entire procedure would take 30 to 60 minutes. Depending on the complexity of the investigation, if the presence of polyps is detected and if removal of polyps is required, most procedures are completed within half an hour to an hour.
What Are the Risks Involved in a Colonoscopy?
As with all medical procedures, a colonoscopy has few risks. In rare situations, complications that arise from a colonoscopy may include:
- An allergic or adverse reaction to the anaesthesia used
- Bleeding from the area where the biopsy was conducted or where a polyp was removed.
- Perforation or a tear in the walls of the colon or rectum
While the potential risks of complications are low, your doctor may require you to sign a consent form before the procedure highlighting the possible complications that may arise.
Am I Able to Be Discharged Immediately After a Colonoscopy?
In most cases, a patient can be discharged within 2 hours after a colonoscopy. Our doctor will check on you after you have recovered from the procedure and provide you with a report of the investigation before you are discharged from the hospital.
How Much Does a Colonoscopy Cost?
The cost of a colonoscopy depends on many factors. The hospital of choice, government or private, and the insurance used usually dictate the final price of the scope. Medisave can also be used for the cost of the scope under certain conditions set by MOH.
In Singapore, residents with subsidies can opt to have a colonoscopy done in a public hospital; the cost will range from $300-800. For restructured hospitals, the estimated cost of a colonoscopy would be between $1,100 and $2,500.
In private hospitals, the estimated cost of a colonoscopy would range between $1,800 to $2,600.
An important point to note is that additional costs may be incurred should additional procedures such as polyp removal or biopsies be required. Some tests may also incur additional costs on top of the existing fees.
Lastly, Singaporeans and Permanent Residents can look to utilise their Medisave to pay for the procedure (up to $1,250) when they opt to perform the colonoscopy as day surgery (non-staying patients).