A "routine" colonoscopy???

  1. My mom, 68yo, excellent health, unremarkable medical history. No family history of colon or intestinal history. Her father died of cancer(not sure what type, wasn't colon though) @ 70, g'mom lived to 90 and died of "old age".

    Mom's gyn wants her to have a colonoscopy. She had one five years ago at his advice and everything was fine. She is tremendously afraid of anesthesia as she had a bad experience in the past ("stopped breathing, they had to use that thing on my chest that made me sore" ??? ..still trying to figure out wth she's talking about..lol). Anyhow, she went to the doc that's to do the colonoscopy for a consult. My sister went with her. His reason for her need to have it done, "her age".

    My feeling, along with the rest of my family is "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". However, there is no way I'm going to tell her not to go and risk having to live with guilt. She's real torn and can't decide. She's a border-line hypochondriac (if I call and say one of the kids are sick, she's sicker...She's always worse off than the next person.. ), so I also fear she may have some "problem" resulting from this surgery.

    I know nothing about adults. Anyone know anything about this? Is it something that really needs to be done or is this another way for docs to pad their pockets??

    Any advice is greatly appreciated!
  2. 16 Comments

  3. by   MomNRN
    What about just doing a Hemocult? If there are polyps or hidden blood, that test would detect it. Seems easier than a colonoscopy if there are no symptoms.

    Our area does a huge PR campaign regarding Hemocults every spring.
  4. by   nurs4kids
    Sorry, forgot that info..

    completely asymptomatic..
    heme negative.
  5. by   ShandyLynnRN
    I thought it was a routine thing at advanced age... isn't that what Katie Couric has been so gung ho on advocating? I heard she had one on live TV.

    I'd say though, that if she has had a negative one in the past, and poor effects from anesthesia, that I'd definitely have to re-consider having one done just "because of her age".

    I didn't realize that they put you under anesthesia for scopes. I thought it was just conscious sedation.
  6. by   oramar
    Considering the fact that her colonoscopy five years ago was completely normal and the fact that the hemocult was negative I think she could skip it this year. However, if there were any problems at all on the last colonoscopy she should have one again. Problems like polyps or diverticulitis are what I am talking about. I had a completely normal colonoscopy a year ago(doctor told me I had the colon of a much younger person). I intend to wait ten years for the next so that means about 2012. I am not saying she will never need to be rechecked but she does not need one right this minute. That conscious sedation is much easier on the system than regular anesthetic so problems are less frequent. Ultimately she will have to decide. That way there is not a burden on some one who makes choices for her.
  7. by   nurs4kids
    Thank you guys soooo much for your replies.

    Oramar, your post reminded me of what my much older sister said..lol

    Told mom, "Yeah, I think you should have it done so that when they recommend that I have it done, I can say 'oh, I'm EXACTLY like my mom and hers was fine, so there's no need to repeat."
  8. by   JMP
    Well, had a colonoscopy last week.
    No biggie.
    Worst part was the prep.
    Got there, slipped in an IV, gave me a wiff of fentayl and midaz, and then colonoscopy.
    Watched the whole thing up on the video monitor. It was cool. Went out for big breakfast afterwards.

    It is recommended with after 40, every 10 years I think.

    Not giving away my age or anything...but my screening was for something else and IT WAS CLEAR!!!!!!


    The test is fairly beign and WORTH knowing the screen is clear.
  9. by   Brownms46
    I did a 6 month contract in a GI Specialty clinic, and 5yrs was the rountine for having a colonoscopy, without any sx or hx of polyps. The clinic I worked in was an HMO, and you know they don't offer to do anything, that they didn't have to do.

    The physicans were excellent there, and we did many of them daily, including sigs, EGD, bronks and ERCPs. It takes about 20 mins, depending of the person and their colon. There also those who were done with very little or no meds at all per their wishes. Most people said it was the best sleep they ever had, and the prep was the only bad thing about the procedure.

    Hope all turns out well
  10. by   KC CHICK
    Yep, becomes routine after a certain age. My mom and step-dad have to get theirs q5yrs. ...or it's recommended that they get them q5yrs.

    I understand that it's not a pleasant thing to go through, but, keep in mind that heredity is only ONE of many risk factors involved with colon cancer. Waiting for the "signs" of colon ca (ie: bleeding) could end up being too late. Routine colonoscopies are meant to be preventative procedures. Not something you wait to do if you, or someone you know, think they have developed ca. Prevent by looking for irregularities that may need to be watched on a more frequent basis.

  11. by   caroladybelle
    Was treated for Dysplasia/colon polyps (27 of them) at age 19.

    Was hemoccult negative at the time.

    Developed Ulcerative colitis - 5 years later

    Was told to have total colectectomy done - as "The polyps WILL reoccur"

    They still haven't.

    Colonoscopy do not use anesthesia - they use sedation/pain meds and you are relatively awake (but remember little) during it.

    And I am somewhat stuck having one every bloomin' year, until I show up positive and they take the whole colon out.

    Sometimes I think about the surgery - that it might be safer, easier.

    And then I realize that the prep for that is worse than the scope.
  12. by   oramar
    I meant to mention that the bowel prep is the worst part. It is particularly stressful in the frail elderly. I could track the bowel prep in some cases as the cause of the downward cascade that eventually caused death. Some people have posted that there are some milder bowel preps out there these days.
  13. by   renerian
    I was asked by my Dr. to have one and I am considering it. I am 46. My mom died of a ruptured diverticuli (undiagnosed illness as she refused the tests ) which caused a flesh eating bacterial infection.

    Wellness health evaluations are an important part of being proactive with one's health care.

  14. by   emily_mom
    Wow, what a timely question. March is Colorectal CA Awareness Month. I am a volunteer Colorectal CA Educator with The American CA Society. This is what they recommend (one of these 5):

    Yearly fecal occult blood test
    Flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years
    Yearly FOBT and flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years (of the first 3, they recommend the 3rd)
    Double contrast barium enema every five years
    Colonoscopy every 10 years

    I have had to opportunity to work with many families who were hit by this disease. Almost all of them have said that they had no history of it in their family, so they didn't think it could happen to them. We have 3 volunteers on our board who have family that passed from Colon CA. One only got the flex sig and unfortunately the CA was in the upper half of the colon, undetectable by the test.

    The one great thing about colonoscopies is that if they do find something, they can biopsy it immediately, which is not true with the flex sig. And, there is a higher percentage of CAs found in the upper half.

    Colon CA can be sneaky, and many of its symptoms are chalked up to other problems. Sometimes there are no symptoms at all.

    I can't tell you what to do, but if you want more information, check out www.cancer.org . The site is packed with lots of useful info this month.

    Good luck in your decision.