What is Polypectomy?
During a colonoscopy, your doctor may find and remove growths known as polyps. At the time of discovery, the majority of these polyps are benign. However, the aim of polypectomy is to reduce the chance of development and mortality due to colorectal cancer.
Your doctor will measure the number and size of polyps during the colonoscopy.
These are both predictors of the risk of invasive cancer and will help determine future screening intervals for your next colonoscopy.
Various polypectomy techniques and devices are available. These usually involve a metal wire or snare that is passed through an instrument channel in the colonoscope. A snare polypectomy can either be performed with (hot snare polypectomy) or without (cold snare polypectomy) an electric current passing through it. Your doctor may also need to inject water, saline or adrenaline or apply a haemoclip to the base of the polyp prior to performing the polypectomy. Generally, smaller polyps <10mm can be resected using cold snare polypectomy.
When findings of polyps are present during an endoscopy, your doctor may consider using polypectomy. This allows the resected polyps to be sent to the laboratory for histological examination to determine what type of cells make up the polyp and to grade the degree of dysplasia or the presence of cancer. Your doctor will review your histology report with you usually 1-2 weeks after your colonoscopy.
Polypectomy is generally safe. However, it is associated with an overall risk of 1% including thermal injury due to electro-cautery, perforation and post polypectomy bleeding. Some of the risk factors that may increase this risk include the use of antiplatelet agents and anticoagulation therapy such as warfarin and also depending on the size of the polyps. After your colonoscopy, your doctor will advise you to be watchful for signs of bleeding, severe abdominal pain or fever. If this happens, it is important to contact your doctor immediately.
Polypectomy will involve an additional cost that goes towards both the doctor’s fee, additional equipment required for the procedure and the cost of histological examination.