Russell Havranek, MD
Gastroenterologist in San Antonio, TX
As a leading gastroenterologist in San Antonio, Dr. Havranek is an expert in screening for colon cancer with colonoscopy. Early detection is the key to beating this cancer, so if you are 50+ years of age… YOU SHOULD BE SCREENED FOR COLON CANCER.
WHY COLONOSCOPY IS IMPORTANT
There are many reasons why we do colonoscopy. The main indication is in screening for colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in our country and when detected early enough is 100% curable. If not detected in time colorectal cancer is fatal. Most all colon cancer starts out as a small cluster of abnormal cells called polyps that look like little bumps on the inside lining of the colon.
During colonoscopy these polyps can be sampled or removed. When they are removed, this prevents them from developing into a possible colon cancer over time. Screening for polyps and colon cancer is something that everyone should go through at some point in their life. At what age screening should begin is based on different risks factors and health conditions. If you have questions about what age is appropriate for you please contact your physician or my office.
Colonoscopy is also done as part of the workup for unexplained abdominal pain, chronic diarrhea and blood seen in the stool. There are also conditions like ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, diverticular disease and many others that can be detected during a colonoscopy and treated.
HOW DO I SCHEDULE A COLONOSCOPY IN SAN ANTONIO?
Scheduling of a colonoscopy with my office is easy. No prior office visit is required. There are several ways to accomplish this:
- You can speak to your primary care physician and have them send us a request form and my office will contact you to make the arrangements.
- Call Us – You call my office directly at 210-615-8308 and we will talk you through the process over the phone and help to make all arrangements.
- Online – click the “schedule an appointment” link below and fill in the form with the appropriate information. My office will contact you to make the arrangements. We will also help you deal with and answer all questions regarding your insurance coverage.
COST OF COLONOSCOPY IN SAN ANTONIO
Like many other medical procedures, the cost of a colonoscopy varies based on the patient’s insurance plan and whether it is a screening or diagnostic exam. Since these factors can significantly impact the patient’s financial responsibility, I wanted to provide some insight into why some colon cancer screenings are coded differently than others.
- A screening colonoscopy is for those over the age of 50 with no symptoms (either past or present) and without a personal or family history of gastrointestinal disease, colon polyps, or cancer. Insurance will typically cover the cost of a screening exam once every 10 years beginning at age 50.
- A colonoscopy is classified as diagnostic if the patient has past or present history of gastrointestinal symptoms or disease, polyps, or cancer.
- REMINDER: If you call a doctor’s office to schedule a colonoscopy and mention that you need the exam due to symptoms, it will be coded as a diagnostic exam. It’s important to clarify with your doctor the reason for the exam prior to calling the gastroenterologist’s office to schedule.
If you or your insurance provider should need any clarification from Dr. Havranek’s office, please contact us at 210-615-8308.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN A COLONOSCOPY PROCEDURE?
Colonoscopy is one of those things that nobody really wants but everyone at one-point needs. It can be a life saving procedure. I had my first one at 40 years old. Colonoscopy is the process of taking a long thin flexible tube that has a camera on the tip and passing it through your colon (large intestine) while you are sleeping to detect abnormalities (like polyps and colon cancer). There are a variety of instruments and tools that can be passed through the colonoscope into the colon to sample and remove abnormal tissue.
WHAT IS INVOLVED IN PREPARATION FOR A COLONOSCOPY?
I will be honest with you, having gone through this procedure myself, preparing for the colonoscopy is worse than the colonoscopy itself. Having said that, there are a lot of things that have been done to make this process easier. To begin with, the day before your colonoscopy procedure you will begin a liquid diet that will help soften up the stool so it is easier to remove. That evening, and sometimes even the morning of your procedure (depending on what time your colonoscopy is scheduled for) you will drink a prescription liquid that has somewhat of a salty taste that will clean out your colon.
Although I understand this is no fun, this is one of the most important parts of preparing for the exam. The cleaner you can get your colon the more likely we are to detect even the smallest of polyps. We will ask that you don’t eat or drink anything other than the bowel prep for about 8 hours prior to your exam. This is for your safety to reduce the risk of vomiting and possible aspiration during the procedure. There are different types of bowel preparations available and our medical assistants will go over the instructions with you in detail when you schedule your exam. There are also certain types of medications (blood thinners, anti-platelet agents, diabetes medications) that may need to be held or adjusted for this exam. Please ask your physician or our office about any of these.
WHAT CAN I EXPECT THE DAY OF THE COLONOSCOPY?
We will do everything we can to make your exam as safe, pleasant and comfortable as possible. You will be asked to arrive at the endoscopy center at least one hour prior to your scheduled exam time. This will allow our nurses and anesthesia providers to go over everything with you in detail and go through your health and medical history so that we can keep you as safe as possible. They will also answer any questions you have. They will place an IV in a vein in your arm so that you can be given fluids and medications during the exam.
You and I will talk and answer any questions you have prior to the exam as well. You will then be given medications through the IV so that you will be comfortable and sleep during the exam. You will be awake enough that you will be breathing on your own but sleepy enough that you are comfortable. Once you drift off to sleep, we will take the scope and go across the entire length of your colon looking for abnormalities and taking a biopsy or removing polyps along the way. This takes approximately 15-30 minutes.
You will then be taken to the recovery room where a different set of nurses will monitor you closely until you are fully awake. I will go over the results of your exam with you before you leave the endoscopy center that day and copies will be sent to your physician. Although you will be awake before you leave it is essential that you bring a friend or relative with you that can safely drive you home. You will want to take this day off of work and will likely feel like just taking it easy and resting the rest of the day. The day after your exam you can resume full activity.
WHAT ARE THE POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONS?
Colonoscopy is a safe procedure when performed by a physician who has been specially trained in this type of procedure. It is actually safer than the car ride you will take to get there. Having said that, as with any medical procedure, there are possible risks. One possible risk is a reaction to the medications given to make you comfortable during the exam. This is why it is important that you spend time discussing your medical history with our nurses and anesthesia providers prior to the exam.
If a reaction to these medications occurs, our anesthesia providers and physicians are specially trained in dealing with these issues. Another possible risk is perforation or tear through the wall of the colon. There are some medical conditions that put you at higher risk for this. Sometimes a perforation or tear requires surgery to repair. This complication is rare but is possible. Bleeding can occur from biopsy or removal of a polyp. The risk of this is about 0.1%. This risk goes up if you take certain medications. This is why it is important to review your medical history and medications that you take with our staff prior to your exam. Aspiration is also a risk. Aspiration occurs if you happen to vomit during your exam and it goes into your lungs. This is why it is very important not to eat or drink for 8 hours prior to your exam.
Although complications of colonoscopy are uncommon we know they are possible. We continue to do everything we can to help keep these to a minimum, as your safety is our first priority. It is also important that you recognize early signs and symptoms of these complications. If you notice any severe abdominal pain, fevers, chills or bleeding after your procedure please contact our office immediately. Our nursing staff will go over this with you as well at the end of your exam.