A polypectomy is a procedure used to remove polyps from the inside of the colon, also called the large intestine. A polyp is an abnormal collection of tissue. The procedure is relatively noninvasive and is usually carried out at the same time as a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy is offered routinely for people who are over 50 years old to check for any growths that could be indicative of cancer. If your doctor discovers polyps during your colonoscopy, they’ll usually perform a polypectomy at the same time.
There are several ways in which a polypectomy can be performed. Which way your doctor chooses will depend on what kind of polyps are in the colon.
Polyps can be small, large, sessile, or pedunculated. Sessile polyps are flat and don’t have a stalk. Pedunculated polyps grow on stalks like mushrooms. For small polyps (less than 5 millimeters in diameter), biopsy forceps can be used for removal. Larger polyps (up to 2 centimeters in diameter) can be removed using a snare.
In snare polypectomy, your doctor will loop a thin wire around the bottom of the polyp and use heat to cut the growth off. Any remaining tissue or stalk is then cauterized.
Some polyps, due to a large size, location, or configuration, are considered more technically challenging or are associated with an increased risk of complications. In these cases, endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR) or endoscopic submucosal dissection (ESD) techniques can be used.
The two most common types of polypectomy are:
Polyps may also develop in other regions of the body. Some other relatively common sites of polypectomy include:
In order to perform a colonoscopy, your doctors need your large intestine to be entirely clear and free from any visual obstruction. For this reason, you’ll be asked to thoroughly empty your bowels for one or two days prior to your procedure. This might involve using laxatives, having an enema, and eating a clear food diet.
Just before the polypectomy, you’ll be seen by an anesthetist, who’ll administer anesthetic for the procedure. They’ll ask you if you’ve had any bad reactions to anesthetic before. Once you’re ready and in your hospital gown, you’ll be asked to lie on your side with your knees pulled up to your chest.
Don't drive or make important decisions or go back to work for the rest of the day. If your doctor removed a polyp during your colonoscopy, you may be advised to eat a special diet temporarily. You may feel bloated or pass gas for a few hours after the exam, as you clear the air from your colon.
Recovery from a polypectomy usually takes about 2 weeks. Patients may feel pain following the procedure, particularly immediately after the procedure.
Taking the pain medication, the doctor prescribes can help.
It's normal to experience some bleeding following the procedure, but call the physician if the bleeding is very heavy, stops and then starts again, or has a foul odor that could indicate an infection.
After the polyp is removed, it will be sent to a lab for testing. If it's not cancerous, the patient will undergo an exam following the removal, but will likely need no further treatment.
about 2 weeks
Recovery from a polypectomy usually takes about 2 weeks. Patients may feel pain following the procedure, particularly immediately after the procedure
Most women feel better within the first week following surgery; however, do not lift, push or pull any heavy objects for a couple of weeks. Do not resume sexual intercourse or douche until your doctor says it is OK. Full recovery takes about two weeks to allow for internal healing.
Your doctor may also recommend you follow a soft, low-residue diet immediately after the procedure.
Foods you can eat after a colonoscopy