Types of Colonoscopies

Screening Colonoscopy
A screening colonoscopy is a preventative procedure for patients who have no symptoms of colon cancer. If a patient has related symptoms or has a polyp removed during a screening colonoscopy procedure, it automatically becomes a diagnostic colonoscopy. A screening colonoscopy is recommended at age 50. If you are under age 50 and you may not be eligible for a screening colonoscopy.

Diagnostic Colonoscopy
A diagnostic colonoscopy occurs when sample tissue must be taken to diagnose an unusual or abnormal looking growth or section of tissue during a screening colonoscopy. Once tissue is taken, a screening colonoscopy becomes diagnostic. Any symptom such as change in bowel habits, diarrhea, constipation, rectal bleeding, anemia, etc. prior to the procedure and noted as a symptom in your medical records may also indicate that a diagnostic colonoscopy is needed. Please be advised that if during the procedure your doctor finds a polyp or tissue that must be removed for pathological testing, these specimens are not covered by the screening benefit and will be applied toward your deductible or coinsurance.

Surveillance of the Colon
Patients that have a family history of polyps or colon cancer may require surveillance of the colon with continuous observation or testing. Surveillance of the colon is considered preventive if the patient is being observed because of risk factors (e.g., work environment) or due to family history. Surveillance of the colon is considered medical if it is being done to observe or monitor a known symptom or problem. If you have had a screening colonoscopy within the last 10 years and the result indicated you had colon polyps, you are not eligible for a screening colonoscopy. You now have a prior history of colon polyps so your next colonoscopy is now considered surveillance of the colon and possibly diagnostic.

About the Procedure

A colonoscopy is an outpatient procedure performed at our in-house surgical center. During the procedure, everything will be done to ensure that you will be as comfortable as possible. An intravenous line (IV) will be placed in your arm to deliver medication that will make you relaxed and drowsy. The drug may enable you to remain awake and cooperative while preventing you from remembering much of the experience. Once you are fully relaxed, Dr. SinghDr. RashbaumDr. Nitin Parikh, Dr. Sumana Moole, or Dr. Long B. Nguyen will first do a rectal exam with a gloved, lubricated finger; then the lubricated colonoscope will be gently inserted. As the scope is slowly and carefully passed, you may feel as if you need to move your bowels, and because air is introduced to help advance the scope, you may feel some cramping or fullness. Generally, however, there is little or no discomfort. The time needed for a colonoscopy will vary, depending in part on what is found and what is done; on average, the procedure takes about 30 minutes.

You should also be aware that colonoscopies are not perfect; and even with skilled physicians it is possible that some colon lesions (abnormalities) can be missed. Complications rarely occur –perforation or puncture of the colon wall would require surgical repair. When a polyp is removed or a biopsy is performed,  it is possible that a hemorrhage (heavy bleeding) may result and sometimes require a blood transfusion or reinsertion of the colonoscope to control the bleeding. Learn more+


Board certified physicians Dr. Ranvir Singh, Dr. Stephen Rashbaum, Dr. Nitin Parikh, Dr. Sumana Moole, Dr. Long B. Nguyen, and Tammi D’Elena, PA-C; and Vanessa T. Dang, MSN, APRN; care for patients in the north Atlanta, GA, area. They have four locations including Alpharetta, GA; Cumming, GA; Johns Creek, GA; and Lawrenceville, GA. The in-house endoscopy suite at the Johns Creek location of Digestive Care Physicians is a certified facility which has achieved the highest level of accreditation by the Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC). If you suffer from gastrointestinal problems or need a colorectal cancer screening, contact us at (770) 227-2222 to schedule an appointment.