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The journey to better health often involves a multitude of medical procedures, each designed to target specific conditions and ensure our well-being.

Among these procedures, the polypectomy stands out as a vital intervention in the realm of gastroenterology.

This comprehensive guide will delve into the intricacies of the polypectomy procedure, shedding light on its significance, the step-by-step process, and why it plays an essential role in preventing serious health complications.


Grasping the Concept of Polyps


Polyps are abnormal growths of tissue that can occur in various parts of the body, including the gastrointestinal tract.

Within the gastrointestinal tract, different types of polyps can develop, each with its own characteristics, potential risks, and implications.

Within the gastrointestinal tract, especially the colon, these growths can harbor the risk of developing into colorectal cancer.

Understanding their origin, development, and potential danger forms the foundation for appreciating the importance of polypectomy.

Here are some of the different types of polyps found in the gastrointestinal tract:

Adenomatous Polyps:

  • Adenomatous polyps, also known as adenomas, are one of the most common types of polyps found in the colon and rectum.
  • These polyps are considered precancerous because they have the potential to develop into colorectal cancer if left untreated.
  • Adenomatous polyps can vary in size, shape, and appearance, and their removal is often recommended to prevent cancer.

Hyperplastic Polyps:

  • Hyperplastic polyps are typically small and non-cancerous growths found in the colon.
  • These polyps are generally considered to have a low risk of developing into cancer. However, some types of hyperplastic polyps known as “serrated polyps” may have a slightly higher potential for progression.

Sessile Serrated Adenomas (SSAs):

  • SSAs are a specific subtype of polyps that are known to have a higher risk of developing into cancer compared to other types of hyperplastic polyps.
  • They are often flat and can be more difficult to detect during routine screenings.

Inflammatory Polyps:

  • Inflammatory polyps can occur in individuals with conditions like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
  • These polyps are usually related to inflammation and may not carry the same risk of cancer as adenomatous polyps.

Juvenile Polyps:

  • Juvenile polyps are rare and usually found in children and adolescents.
  • While they are typically benign, they can cause bleeding and other symptoms and may need to be removed if they cause problems.

Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP):

  • FAP is a genetic condition characterized by the development of numerous adenomatous polyps in the colon and rectum.
  • People with FAP have a significantly increased risk of developing colorectal cancer, and preventive measures, including frequent screenings and sometimes surgery, are often recommended.

It’s important to note that the detection and removal of certain types of polyps, especially adenomatous polyps, play a significant role in preventing colorectal cancer.

Regular screenings, such as colonoscopies, can help identify and remove these polyps early, reducing the risk of cancer development.

Healthcare professionals, such as gastroenterologists, play a crucial role in identifying the type of polyps present and determining the appropriate course of action for each individual.



Symptoms of Polyps


Polyps in the gastrointestinal tract often do not cause noticeable symptoms in their early stages.

However, as they grow larger or become more advanced, certain symptoms may arise.

It’s important to note that these symptoms can also be indicative of other gastrointestinal conditions, so it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional for accurate diagnosis.

Here are some potential symptoms that might indicate the presence of polyps:

  • Rectal Bleeding: Blood in the stool, on toilet paper, or in the toilet bowl after bowel movements can be a sign of polyps. This is particularly concerning if the bleeding is persistent or recurrent. 
  • Changes in Bowel Habits: Polyps can sometimes cause changes in bowel habits, such as alternating between constipation and diarrhea or experiencing a change in stool size or shape. 
  • Abdominal Pain or Discomfort: Larger polyps or those located in certain areas of the gastrointestinal tract might lead to abdominal pain, cramping, or discomfort. 
  • Anemia: Chronic or recurrent bleeding from polyps can result in anemia, which is characterized by fatigue, weakness, and paleness due to low levels of red blood cells. 
  • Unexplained Weight Loss: Rapid and unexplained weight loss, especially when accompanied by other symptoms, might be a sign of an underlying issue like polyps. 
  • Feeling of Incomplete Emptying: Some individuals with larger polyps might feel as though their bowel hasn’t completely emptied after a bowel movement. 
  • Visible Polyps: In some cases, polyps might be visible at the anus or rectum, especially if they are near the opening. This is more likely to occur with larger or lower rectal polyps. 
  • Changes in Bowel Movements: Polyps can cause changes in the regularity of bowel movements or cause discomfort during bowel movements.

It’s important to emphasize that these symptoms can also indicate other gastrointestinal issues, and many people with polyps do not experience any symptoms at all.

Regular screenings, such as colonoscopies, are crucial for early detection and removal of polyps, especially in cases where symptoms are absent or not specific.

If you notice any of these symptoms or have concerns about your gastrointestinal health, it’s advisable to consult a healthcare professional for a proper evaluation and diagnosis.



Importance of Polypectomy


The significance of polypectomy transcends beyond the removal of growths; it’s about taking proactive control of health.

A polypectomy, a minimally invasive procedure, emerges as a beacon of hope in the realm of gastrointestinal health.

With a focus on early intervention, a polypectomy involves the careful removal of these precancerous growths.

Detecting and removing precancerous polyps early can significantly reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

This procedure is not only a tool for prevention but also a strategy for maintaining a high quality of life.


A Closer Look at the Polypectomy Procedure


Delving into the core of the matter, let’s explore the step-by-step journey of a polypectomy.

The process involves thorough preparation, including dietary adjustments and sometimes bowel cleansing.

During the procedure, an endoscope is used to navigate the gastrointestinal tract.
Once the polyp is identified, it is skillfully removed, and any resulting bleeding is managed.
The procedure is swift, minimally invasive, and often associated with minimal discomfort.


Navigating Risks and Rewards


Polypectomy, while generally considered safe and effective, carries certain risks and potential complications like any medical procedure.

It’s important to note that the risks can vary depending on factors such as the type of polyp, its location, the patient’s overall health, and the techniques used during the procedure.

Here are some of the possible risks associated with polypectomy:

  • Bleeding
  • Perforation
  • Infection
  • Post-Polypectomy Syndrome
  • Adverse Reaction to Anesthesia
  • Scar Tissue Formation
  • Incomplete Removal
  • Delayed Bleeding
  • Allergic Reaction

In contrast, the rewards are substantial.

A polypectomy serves as a preventive measure, shielding patients from the physical and emotional burden of cancer treatment and its aftermath.

Looking Ahead and Conclusion


The world of medicine is ever evolving, and the polypectomy procedure continues to advance. Researchers strive to refine techniques and enhance patient outcomes.

As we conclude this journey through the realm of polypectomy, it’s evident that this procedure is a beacon of hope, embodying the essence of prevention and early intervention.

The polypectomy procedure is more than a medical intervention; it’s a shield against the shadows of potential health threats.

Its importance lies in its ability to intercept the path to cancer and offer patients the promise of a healthier future.

By understanding the procedure and embracing its significance, individuals empower themselves to take control of their well-being and journey towards a life free from the specter of colorectal cancer.



Get In Touch


If you would like to book an appointment with a gastrointestinal (GI) specialist or would simply like more information on a particular GI topic, don’t hesitate to use our online booking form
or call Dr. Deetlefs at 021 551 867.


The information on this website is to provide general guidance. In no way does any of the information provided reflect definitive medical advice and self-diagnoses should not be made based on information obtained online. It is important to consult a Gastroenterologist or medical doctor regarding ANY and ALL symptoms or signs including, but not limited to: abdominal pain, haemorrhoids or anal / rectal bleeding as it may a sign of a serious illness or condition. A thorough consultation and examination should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call a physician or call our office today and schedule a consultation.

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© Dr. Eduan Deetlefs, Registered Gastroenterologist, GI Doc Cape Town

Our website information is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a doctor about your specific condition. Only a trained physician can determine an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.