Frequently Asked Questions

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What is a colon and rectal surgeon and how do I know if I need to see one?

A colon and rectal surgeon is a general surgeon who has completed additional specialty training in the diagnosis and treatment of surgical diseases of the colon and rectum.  Most diseases of the colon and rectum may be diagnosed and treated medically by your primary care doctor or gastroenterologist.  However, you may be referred to a colon and rectal surgeon to consider surgical treatment options if medical treatment is insufficient.

What types of problems might require surgical instead of medical treatment?

Diseases such as cancer, diverticulitis, inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis) often require surgical treatment.  Disorders of the anus and rectum such as hemorrhoids, abscesses, fistulas, and fissures may also require or benefit from surgical treatment.

What are some signs and symptoms of colon cancer?

Colon and rectal cancer most often is diagnosed by colonoscopy before any symptoms are present.  Often symptoms indicate more advanced disease.  Symptoms may include rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, or change in bowel habits (constipation or diarrhea).  These symptoms are not specific and may be representative of other disorders of the colon, rectum, and/or anus.  If you are experiencing these symptoms, you should be evaluated by your primary care doctor or gastroenterologist.

What is a polyp?

Polyps are growths in the colon and rectum. Polyps are usually small and typically do not give any symptoms. There are many different types of polyps. A few polyps, (adenomas) if left in the colon long enough, can turn into cancer. Removing polyps at colonoscopy can prevent most colon and rectal cancers.

At what age should I have a colonoscopy?

Average risk individuals should start colon and rectal cancer screening at the age of 50. People with symptoms or other risk factors would start earlier.  You are considered higher risk if you have a family or personal history of colon and rectal cancer or precancerous polyps.  You are also at a higher risk if you have a diagnosis of ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.  If you think you may be at an increased risk of colon cancer, you should talk to your doctor about whether you should have a colonoscopy before the age of 50.

What is a colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is the most thorough evaluation of the colon and rectum available. It involves using a camera on a flexible tube to visualize the lining of the entire colon. It requires a full bowel preparation to remove all of the stool the day prior to the test. The test is performed with medication so as to ensure patient comfort.

Is a colonoscopy performed in the hospital?

Our physicians will perform a colonoscopy only at the hospitals where we are affiliated. The hospitals are well staffed and have the appropriate ancillary services, which can be required for some of these procedures.

What hospitals are the doctors affiliated with?

Our doctors provide services at both St. Mark’s hospital and at Intermountain Medical Center.  Our office is located on the campus of St. Mark’s Hospital.

Do I need to prep for the colonoscopy?

Yes. Please see the instructions in the colonoscopy section (hyperlink this).  If you are having your colonoscopy in the operating room, you will need to follow different bowel preparation instructions from the ones provided for patients having their procedure in the endoscopy suite.  If you are unsure about which prep to do, please call our office.

What medications can be taken or not taken prior to colonoscopy?

Some medications can increase the risk of bleeding after colonoscopy. Coumadin (warfarin), Xarelto (rivaroxaban), aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen (and most other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications), and Plavix (clopidogrel) can lead to bleeding. People with diabetes may have to alter their usual insulin or pill doses to avoid becoming hypoglycemic. Heart and blood pressure medications and lung inhalers are usually taken without any interruption.

How long will I be at the hospital for my colonoscopy?

The average stay is 2 ½ to 3 ½ hours.

Do I need to be referred by my primary care physician?

Our doctors do not require a referral, but your insurance company may require that.

Should I make an appointment in the office to discuss my colonoscopy with the doctor before scheduling it?

If you have confirmed with your insurance company that you do not need a referral, we are happy to schedule a colonoscopy for most generally healthy, asymptomatic patients without seeing you in our office beforehand.  If you have symptoms, significant health problems, or otherwise would like an appointment to discuss the procedure prior to scheduling it, we are happy to see you in the office prior to scheduling your colonoscopy.

Where are your offices located, and how can I obtain directions to one of your offices?

Please refer to the directions section (hyperlink “directions section”) for the directions to our office.

How many physicians are in the practice?

There are two board certified colon and rectal surgeons in our practice.  We share weekend and holiday coverage with each other so you are likely to meet us both if you require hospitalization as part of your treatment.

Which doctor would you recommend?

We recommend the next available appointment with either of our physicians. Our doctors work as a team to care for our patients inside and out of the hospital. It is important that you be comfortable with your physician from our group.

Do I have to pay my co-pay before seeing the doctor?

Yes, co-payments are due at the time of service.

Do you submit my insurance?

We submit for all insurance companies with whom we are currently participating providers.

Should I come in for my visit and/or colonoscopy during menstrual cycle?

Yes. It may seem embarrassing, but a menstrual period is a natural, healthy occurrence. This should not interfere with any appointment.

Why do I have to wait so long for an office appt?

Our doctors see as many patients as possible without compromising the quality of care provided. You may be scheduled earlier or later for an appointment depending on the nature of your illness and the time anticipated to be needed for your appointment.

Can you place my name on a waiting list?

You should schedule an appointment to reserve a time.  You may request to be contacted sooner if an earlier appointment time becomes available.

How do I reach the doctor with questions after my appointment?

To efficiently handle telephone calls, our trained medical assistants may help you with common questions.  They will also ensure that doctors are updated about ongoing concerns.  You can be sure that the doctors are involved in all steps of your care and will be available promptly for any emergencies.

When will the doctor refill my prescriptions?

Generally medication refills requests are answered within 24 hours.  Controlled substance refills are not provided after hours or on weekends.

Why is my appointment occasionally rescheduled?

Colon and rectal surgeons are called for many emergencies which can require urgent attention and even surgical treatment.  Such problems include bowel perforation or obstruction, bleeding, or assisting other surgeons with unexpected operative findings.  Hospital delays in expected surgery schedules and emergencies account for the frequent need to change appointment times and dates.

How soon will my surgery be performed?

This will depend on the nature of your illness, where your surgery will be scheduled (usually driven by type of insurance), and when the physician is scheduled to be at that hospital to do procedures.

Will I be seen on time?

We try to give each patient the time they need to address their problems and complete their procedures.  Sometimes, office appointments or hospital procedures can require more time than anticipated.  For this reason, we sometimes run late or even reschedule your appointment.  We appreciate your patience and assure your that when providing your care, you will have our undivided attention.

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