What are polyps?
A polyp is an abnormal mass of tissue that has developed on a mucous membrane within the body. Polyps arise due to genetic mutations within cells that induce aberrant growth. Over time, many polyps can become malignant, and therefore it is important to detect and remove them. This is particularly true in the colon.
Polyps most commonly occur in the colon, stomach, uterus, urinary bladder, and nasal cavities, but can occur on the cells that line most internal bodily organs. They do not generally cause symptoms, so they can go undetected unless a diagnostic screening exam, such as a colonoscopy, occurs.
In the digestive tracts, polyps are most common in the colon and rectum, but can also occur in the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, gall bladder, bile ducts, and pancreas.
What is a polypectomy?
“Polypectomy” is the name of the procedure used to remove polyps from the digestive system. Using modern technology, polypectomy usually occurs during a minimally invasive endoscopic exam. Using high-resolution optics, and precision tools inserted through a flexible endoscope, your doctor surgically removes the polyp and retrieves it for microscopic analysis.
What are the risk factors for polyps?
Colon polyps are more prevalent in people over 50 years of age, those with a family history of polyps, smokers, people with a sedentary lifestyle, and those who are overweight. Polyps are more common in African-Americans. Certain diseases such as ulcerative colitis predispose to colon polyps, and certain rare genetic diseases predispose to polyps of the small intestine and the stomach.
Can you remove all polyps during endoscopy?
During endoscopy, your physician careful inspects all polyps for features associated with precancerous or cancerous growth. Some polyps are innocent, so we leave these in place. The size and location of most (> 95 percent, depending on the expertise of the operator) precancerous colon polyps permit real-time endoscopic removal. The remainder may require surgery or another approach.
Polyps are rare in the small intestine; using modern techniques, we can resect many of these with endoscopic techniques, but many others necessitate laparoscopic surgery. Most polyps in the stomach are innocent; when we need to, we are typically able to remove stomach polyps endoscopically.
What are the risks of polypectomy?
Polypectomy is generally safe. The major risks are bleeding due to vessels transected during the procedure; we minimize this risk via cautery and the placement of metallic clips over any vessels. The other major risk is puncture of the colon wall, which is very thin (a couple of millimeters in thickness). We use a variety of techniques and strategies to minimize this risk. Overall, the complication risk depends on the size of the polyp, the experience of the doctor, and your general health. For example, if you take blood thinners your risk of post-procedure bleeding increases.
What should I expect after polypectomy?
You may feel some gassiness after the procedure, but most people feel tired but healthy. Many return to work. You may not drive.
The resected polyp tissue goes to our pathology lab where the pathologist examines it microscopically for cancerous or precancerous cells. Your gastroenterologist will notify you with the lab results, generally within a week or so. If the polyp is malignant or not amenable to colonoscopic polypectomy, we will direct you to the appropriate next steps in management.
Polypectomy is a safe and effective minimally invasive technique for removing precancerous polyps. It reduces the risk of colorectal cancer.
Our Endoscopy Centers
The Endoscopy Center of New York and Carnegie Hill Endoscopy are 12,000 square foot, state-of-the-art facilities located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. NYGA physicians founded, direct, and perform procedures at these centers. We operate these facilities jointly with the Mount Sinai Hospital.
The centers have multiple large, fully equipped procedure rooms, a well-appointed, comfortable waiting room, a private registration area, and spacious pre-assessment and recovery areas. The centers have hosted more than 100,000 endoscopic procedures.
An individual anesthesiologist is dedicated to each patient for the duration of his or her procedure. We employ state-of-the art vital signs monitoring throughout. This ensures comfort and safety.
Typically, your health insurance will cover all facility charges, anesthesia services, and pathology services related to your procedure.