A cutaway of intestines in a body show a scope traveling through and various red flags marking polyps and red marks; a doctor observes the image on a screen in the background.

The Importance of the Dreaded Colonoscopy

I hate having a colonoscopy. Let me be more specific. I hate the prep work for a colonoscopy. I mean, why in the world do we need to drink a gallon of laxatives? Why do we not have a better alternative? Prep has not changed in 20 years, and I think that is absolutely ridiculous.

My hatred of colonoscopy prep work led me to avoid having one. It made me keep quiet about symptoms when I should have informed my doctor. Do not make the same mistake.

Testing to find blood in your stool is unreliable

While I was in the hospital for an unrelated issue, my husband mentioned that I had blood in my stool the day I arrived. The doctors tested a stool sample, and it came back clean. No blood was detected in my stool despite having blood in my stool just a few hours earlier. Stick a pin in that. I will circle back to it.

I was immediately sent for a CT scan for another issue, and the doctor decided to have a look at all of it at once. That scan detected a GI bleed in my intestine. Circling back, I had an active GI bleed, and no blood was detected in my stool when they performed the test they recommended for finding blood in it. You absolutely cannot trust that those tests will detect blood even if you have an active GI bleed.

Accidentally finding bleeding with a CT scan

Doctors are not doing CT scans as a routine check for blood in your stool. Mine was found while they were looking at another issue. I would not have been sent for a CT scan for this issue alone since the other test detected no blood in my stool.

My GI bleed would not have been found if I did not have another medical issue that was being investigated. It was a complete accident that the bleed was found. Knowing that some tests are unreliable and CT scans are not normal screening tests, the only other way this would have been discovered is during a routine colonoscopy.

Why colonoscopies are necessary

While the CT scan did find a GI bleed, it did not reveal the source of the bleeding. In fact, they believed it was a completely different issue than what it turned out to be. The only way to really know what is going on in there and diagnose a problem is to take a good look at it via a colonoscopy.

All the blood tests, stool sample testing, and scans cannot compare to the colonoscopy. It allows your doctor to really see what is present in the colon. There is no guessing. During a colonoscopy, they can find the issue, repair it, perform biopsies, and more. There is no substitute.

I loathe colonoscopies

It is not really the procedure itself that I loathe. It is the prep. I avoided having a colonoscopy despite having a red flag issue. In doing so, I discovered that testing a stool sample is unreliable and no substitute for a colonoscopy. By all means, have the test done but do not dismiss an issue because that test comes back clean.

As much as we all would prefer not to have a colonoscopy, it is the only way to ensure there is no issue that needs attention. There is no substitute for the dreaded colonoscopy. Do not wait or avoid it. Be sure to have yours done when recommended.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The IrritableBowelSyndrome.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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