A colonoscopy isn’t exactly something that people look forward to with joy, but the fact of the matter is that it’s a very helpful screening tool that can help catch issues early in their development and potentially help to save your life. Even when people are aware of the benefits of a colonoscopy, many wonder if there are any less invasive techniques that can provide similar results. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at some of the common alternatives to a colonoscopy.
Here’s a look at a number of potential alternatives to a colonoscopy, each with their own benefits and drawbacks. For more information about each, reach out to Dr. Bhatti and the team at Bhatti GI Consultants today.
- Sigmoidoscopy – A sigmoidoscopy is likely the most common alternative to a colonoscopy, but it’s also the most similar, so those hoping to avoid some of the uncomfortable aspects associated with a colonoscopy will not find much difference with this procedure. A sigmoidoscopy is a less invasive procedure that checks a smaller portion of the colon, so it’s not a perfect replacement for a colonoscopy either. In many instances, if you’re going to endure a sigmoidoscopy, you might as well undergo a colonoscopy and get more peace of mind about the totality of your colon health.
- Fecal Immunochemical Testing (FIT) – A FIT procedure involves the screening of stool samples to test for certain issues. The test relies on antibodies to detect traces of blood in the stool sample, which could suggest a GI bleed or another issue that would require intervention. These tests are commonly used in other places of the world as a lower cost alternative, but because they are not as comprehensive, certain issues can be missed with a FIT test and they generally need to be repeated at a much sooner interval than a colonoscopy.
- Stool DNA Test – A stool DNA test may be ordered on its own or in conjunction with a FIT test. This test involves looking for blood or the presence of certain DNA markers that could indicate the presence of colon cancer. If an abnormality is detected, a colonoscopy may be ordered, so many people just decide to go with the more comprehensive colonoscopy test at the outset.
- CT Colonography – A CT colonography is another alternative that involves taking detailed images of your colon with the help of computerized tomography. You don’t need sedatives to have the procedure performed, but you’ll need to clear out your colon with an enema or medications prior to screening. The colon will carefully be inflated with air prior to running the colonography, and like other tests listed above, any abnormalities will require additional testing, which typically comes in the form of a colonoscopy.
- Double Contrast Barium Enema – A final alternative that we’ll highlight here is a double contrast barium enema, which is a type of X-ray that helps a specialist examine the colon. The barium helps to create clear images of the colon that can be viewed with an X-ray, but a concern with the procedure is that it doesn’t have a good track record of identifying small tumors or polyps, which are the most treatable. It may be an option for patients for whom a colonoscopy is not an option, but it’s not something the average individual would likely pursue instead of a colonoscopy.
In short, while there are some alternatives, if the only reason you want to pursue an alternative is because you believe a colonoscopy will be uncomfortable, odds are it’s just in your best interest to work to become comfortable with the procedure and get a colonoscopy. It will provide the best look at your colon health and is best at identifying potential problems, so the reward is well worth the short discomfort. If you want help becoming more comfortable with the idea of a colonoscopy or want to learn how to prepare for your upcoming colonoscopy, reach out to Dr. Bhatti and the team at Bhatti Gi Consultants today.