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What is a Polypectomy?

By Dorothy Distefano
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A polyp is an abnormal mass of tissue that has developed inside a mucous membrane within the body. Polyps have the potential for malignancy, and therefore should be removed. The procedure for removal of polyps is a polypectomy.

Polyps are most commonly found in the colon, stomach, uterus, urinary bladder, and nasal cavities, but can occur in any mucous membrane. They are generally asymptomatic, and may go undetected until a diagnostic exam, such as a colonoscopy, is performed. Once identified, it is usually recommended that the polyps are removed. Even if they are non-cancerous when found, they have the potential to become cancerous if left in place.

A polypectomy is the surgical removal of a polyp. The procedure may be performed through an open abdominal surgery or via endoscopy. During an endoscopic procedure, such as a colonoscopy, the polyp may be excised with forceps inserted through the endoscope. Larger polyps may be removed with a snare along the base, cauterizing the area after removal to prevent bleeding.

Before an endoscopic procedure, a patient may be advised to temporarily discontinue taking certain medications. Anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin, as well as any blood-thinners like Coumadin® may need to be discontinued for up to one week prior to the procedure. This may be done because these drugs can inhibit clot formation after polypectomy.

Potential complications of a polypectomy include bleeding and perforation. Perforation is the inadvertent puncturing of the tissue, creating a hole. Bleeding can usually be controlled with cauterization, but perforation requires surgical correction. There is also the potential for an adverse reaction to sedatives or anesthesia if they were administered prior to the exam.

After polyps are removed via polypectomy, they are sent for analysis. A lab will test the tissue for cancerous or precancerous cells. Patients should receive notification from their physician regarding the results from the lab. If the polyp is determined to be malignant, the patient will likely be scheduled for follow-up diagnostic examinations on a regular basis.

Since polyps are generally asymptomatic, it is important to know some of the common risk factors that contribute to forming polyps. Colon polyps are more prevalent in people over 50 years of age, those with a family history of polyps, smokers, those with a sedentary lifestyle, and those who are overweight. Nasal polyps may be more likely to form in those with asthma, aspirin sensitivity, allergies to fungi, and those with cystic fibrosis. Risk factors for cervical polyps are not clearly understood.

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Discussion Comments
By anon289568 — On Sep 04, 2012

@live2shop: I recommend you go get a colonoscopy. It is not painful in the least. The only part is the cleansing. It is hard to drink only fluids but you need willpower. I say go for it. It does not hurt.

By anon218152 — On Sep 28, 2011

I'm 56 years old, female and of slight build - BMI 20. I had a colonoscopy two weeks ago and although I was worried before it was absolutely painless. It felt a bit odd at times but nothing more.

I had pethidine (painkiller) and a mild sedative. I'm pretty sure I remained conscious and can remember all the procedure.

I had a small 3mm polyp removed and a single diverticulum was identified. The bowel cleansing with Picolax was OK so long as I didn't go too far from a loo! Tell your sister to have it done.

By BoniJ — On Jul 13, 2011

@live2shop - I have had two colonoscopies. I highly recommend that everyone over 50 or under 50 if you have a lot of relatives who have had colon cancer, and your doctor recommends it. Check with your doctor if you have any unusual symptoms.

To prepare for the procedure the day before, I had to not eat, and drink Gatorade with a preparation mixed in to clear the colon. This was the most unpleasant part.

I went to a day surgery center. I was put in a hospital bed and prepared for surgery. An anesthesiologist gave me a light anesthesia treatment, so I don't remember anything that happened. Afterwards, the doctor came to talk to me and told me that he found a few small polyps that he snipped out. This is called a polypectomy procedure. He told me that after the tissue was tested and the report came back from the lab, his nurse would send me a lab report.

For the rest of the day, I felt a little tired and not too hungry, but there was no pain.

This screening test is a very accurate way to tell if you have cancer when it is still small enough to treat. I feel much less worried when I have a regular colonoscopy - about every 5 - 10 years. So if you are over 50, call your doctor and get an appointment for a colonoscopy. You will be glad you did!

By live2shop — On Jul 12, 2011

My sister is 56 years old and is worried about having a colonoscopy. She knows she should have one, but keeps putting it off.

Can anyone explain a little about what happens before, during, or after a colonoscopy? How did you feel about this procedure.? Did it hurt?

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