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Polyps, abnormal tissue growths that can develop in various parts of the body, are commonly found in the colon.

When detected during a colonoscopy, these polyps may be removed through a procedure known as polypectomy.

This comprehensive guide aims to delve into the intricacies of polypectomy, exploring its purpose, the types of polyps encountered, the procedure itself, potential risks, and the significance of this intervention in preventing colorectal cancer.




Polyps, although often benign, have the potential to transform into cancerous growths, particularly in the colon.

The importance of polypectomy lies in its role as a preventive measure, removing these precancerous lesions before they can progress.

This guide navigates through the world of polypectomy, shedding light on its significance in colorectal health.


Understanding Polyps and Their Types


Before delving into the specifics of polypectomy, it’s essential to understand the nature of polyps.

There are various types, including adenomatous polyps, hyperplastic polyps, and serrated polyps.

While most polyps are noncancerous, certain types have a higher likelihood of developing into colorectal cancer, underscoring the importance of early detection and removal.


Types of Polyps:

Polyps are abnormal tissue growths that can develop in various parts of the body, and they are commonly found in the colon.

The types of polyps can vary based on their characteristics and potential for malignancy. Here are some of the main types of polyps:


  1. Adenomatous Polyps:
  • Description:
    Adenomatous polyps are the most common type of polyps found in the colon.
  • Characteristics:
    They can be further classified into three subtypes – tubular, tubulovillous, and villous
    adenomas – based on their structure. Villous adenomas have a higher risk of developing into cancer.
  • Potential for Malignancy:
    Adenomatous polyps are considered precancerous, and their removal is crucial in preventing the development of colorectal cancer.


  1. Hyperplastic Polyps:
  • Description:
    Hyperplastic polyps are generally noncancerous and are more common in the rectum.
  • Characteristics:
    They are typically small and have a smoother appearance compared to adenomatous polyps.
  • Potential for Malignancy:
    While hyperplastic polyps themselves are not considered precancerous, some subtypes, especially those in the serrated category, may have an increased risk of developing into cancer.


  1. Serrated Polyps:
  • Description:
    Serrated polyps have a saw-toothed appearance under the microscope.
  • Characteristics: This category includes various types, such as traditional serrated adenomas, sessile serrated adenomas, and hyperplastic polyps with serrated features.
  • Potential for Malignancy: Some serrated polyps, particularly sessile serrated adenomas, are associated with an increased risk of developing into cancer.


  1. Inflammatory Polyps:
  • Description:
    Inflammatory polyps are typically associated with conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
  • Characteristics:
    They result from the body’s response to inflammation in the colon.
  • Potential for Malignancy:
    Inflammatory polyps themselves are not considered precancerous, but the underlying inflammation may increase the risk of developing colorectal cancer.


  1. Juvenile Polyps:
  • Description:
    Juvenile polyps are rare and are usually found in children.
  • Characteristics:
    They are typically small, and their appearance is distinctive under the microscope.
  • Potential for Malignancy:
    Juvenile polyps are generally noncancerous, but they can cause rectal bleeding and other symptoms.


  1. Peutz-Jeghers Polyps:
  • Description:
    Peutz-Jeghers polyps are associated with a rare genetic condition called Peutz-Jeghers syndrome.
  • Characteristics:
    They are often found in the stomach and small intestine.
  • Potential for Malignancy:
    While the polyps themselves are benign, individuals with Peutz-Jeghers syndrome have an increased risk of various cancers.


It’s important to note that the potential for malignancy varies among different types of polyps.

Regular screenings, such as colonoscopies, are crucial for detecting and removing precancerous polyps, thus preventing the development of colorectal cancer.

Individuals should discuss their specific situation with their healthcare provider to determine the most appropriate screening and surveillance plan based on their risk factors and medical history.



The Importance of Early Detection


Early detection of polyps is paramount in preventing the progression to colorectal cancer.

Regular screenings, such as colonoscopies, play a crucial role in identifying and characterizing polyps, enabling timely intervention through polypectomy.


Polypectomy Procedure: Step by Step

Polypectomy is a vital medical procedure performed during a colonoscopy to remove polyps found in the colon.

These polyps, although often benign, have the potential to develop into colorectal cancer.

The step-by-step guide below provides a comprehensive overview of the polypectomy procedure, emphasizing its significance in preventing the progression of precancerous lesions.



Before the polypectomy procedure, the individual undergoes thorough preparation, typically involving a clear liquid diet and bowel cleansing to ensure optimal visualization of the colon during the colonoscopy.


Anesthesia and Sedation:

Once the patient is prepared, the healthcare provider administers anesthesia or sedation to ensure the patient is comfortable and relaxed during the procedure. In some cases, conscious sedation is used, allowing the patient to remain awake but in a relaxed state.


Insertion of Colonoscope:

The gastroenterologist or endoscopist then inserts a colonoscope into the rectum. A colonoscope is a flexible tube with a light and camera at its tip, allowing the healthcare provider to visualize the inside of the colon on a monitor.


Identification of Polyps:

As the colonoscope is navigated through the colon, the healthcare provider carefully examines the lining for the presence of polyps. Polyps may vary in size and shape, and their characteristics influence the choice of the polypectomy technique.


Snare Polypectomy:

For smaller polyps, a common technique is the snare polypectomy. The gastroenterologist uses a thin wire loop (snare) at the end of the colonoscope to encircle the polyp. Once the polyp is captured, the snare is tightened, cutting the polyp from the colon wall.


Endoscopic Mucosal Resection (EMR):

Larger polyps may require a more intricate technique known as Endoscopic Mucosal Resection (EMR). This technique involves injecting a saline solution beneath the polyp to lift it away from the colon wall. The elevated polyp is then snared and removed.



In some cases, particularly if bleeding is a concern, electrocautery may be used during the polypectomy. This involves applying an electrical current to the snare, coagulating blood vessels and minimizing the risk of bleeding.


Removal and Retrieval:

Once the polyp is successfully snared or resected, it is carefully removed from the colon. Larger polyps may be cut into smaller pieces for easier retrieval.


Biopsy (if needed):

In certain situations, the healthcare provider may perform a biopsy of the surrounding tissue to ensure complete removal of the polyp and to assess for any potential malignancy.


Post-Polypectomy Inspection:

After the polypectomy, the gastroenterologist carefully inspects the treated area to ensure there is no bleeding or other complications. Any potential bleeding can be addressed immediately during the procedure.


Recovery and Post-Procedure Care:

Following the polypectomy, the patient is monitored in a recovery area until the effects of sedation wear off. Instructions are provided regarding diet, activity, and any signs or symptoms that should prompt a follow-up.




Types of Polypectomy Techniques


Various techniques are utilized in polypectomy, each tailored to the characteristics of the polyp.

Snare polypectomy involves using a wire loop to snare and remove the polyp, while EMR is employed for larger lesions. This section explores the nuances of these techniques and their application.



Beyond Polypectomy: Colorectal Health and Cancer Prevention


Polypectomy is a pivotal intervention in colorectal health, but it is just one aspect of a broader strategy for preventing colorectal cancer.

Lifestyle factors, regular screenings, and awareness play integral roles in maintaining optimal colorectal health.




Contact Dr. Deetlefs


In conclusion, polypectomy emerges as a powerful tool in the prevention of colorectal cancer.

By understanding the procedure, its importance, and the collaborative role of individuals and healthcare providers, we empower ourselves in the journey toward optimal colorectal health.

Dr Eduan prides himself on his ability to help his patients to the best of his ability by embracing good listening skills, effective communication, compassion and knowledge and skill honed during years of private gastroenterology practice.

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. 


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