Prepping for a Colonoscopy: Why It's a Necessary Evil

Though new techniques are on the horizon, doctors say colon-cleansing is here to stay

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The drawback to virtual colonoscopy, however, is that if a polyp is found, you'll still need to undergo a regular colonoscopy.

Some researchers are hoping to develop screening tests that can bypass the colonoscopy altogether. A company called Exact Sciences has indicated that it intends to seek U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for a noninvasive, DNA-based stool test it has developed. It's designed to detect changes in DNA that indicate cancerous or pre-cancerous changes. Of course, if cancerous changes were detected, you'd still need to have a colonoscopy.

Both Hutchins and Vashi said that cleaning out the bowel before colonoscopy will probably be a necessary part of the procedure for some time to come.

"We've come a long way already, and while we do keep on trying to make it easier for patients, we don't want to compromise the quality of the bowel preparation and the colonoscopy," Vashi said.

More information

The American College of Gastroenterology has more about bowel preparation and the colonoscopy procedure.

For more on the risks of delaying a colonoscopy, read about one man's experience.

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