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All Posts in Category: Colonoscopy

Woman drinking water from a glass to help prepare for a colonoscopy

Getting Ready for Colonoscopy: What’s New about the “P” Word

No doubt, the dreaded “P” word can conjure up mild apprehension. We are talking, of course, about “prep”, the oh-so necessary process prior to a colonoscopy. Everyone has heard stories about it, maybe even experienced it with a prior procedure. It’s OK if you’re beginning to get a nervous knot in your stomach at the mere thought of “prep”, but we’re here to tell you times have changed, and that usually means things get better, more informed. Such is the case with “prep”.

You made the appointment. You’ve completed the hardest part.

Of course, the benefit of having a colonoscopy to check for polyps or any other potentially cancerous abnormalities within the digestive tract far outweighs the very temporary inconvenience of its “prep”. Fortunately, ongoing advancements of “prep” methods over the past few years have provided more patient-friendly approaches that make “prep” – excuse the pun – easier to swallow.

One example is the evolution away from the high volume (upwards of 12 liters) liquid solutions that had to be consumed, to the more current method of combining liquids and laxatives in a timed regimen. Another common approach is the “split” prep, where half of the regimen is consumed the day before the colonoscopy and the second half on the day of the colonoscopy. Your doctor will discuss what approach is best for you, as well as provide detailed, easy to follow written instructions for the “prep” itself.

An easier process with better results.

As we shared before, welcome side effects from “prep” advancements are an easier process for patients, as well as a higher success rate in achieving a total cleanse of the colon to ensure best screening during the procedure. Many of our patients report the “prep” was much easier than they expected, especially if they experienced their first colonoscopy.

It’s all down hill from here.  

With other surgical procedures, things can sometimes get more difficult as each step progresses. With colonoscopy, it’s the opposite. Making the appointment, doing the “prep”; that’s the heavy lifting. By the time your colonoscopy is finished, you will probably have a feeling of “is that it?” Regardless of what your screening reveals, from a practical standpoint, yes, that’s it.

Dr. Joseph Levan, Dr. Robert Howard and Dr. Thomas Beetel of Spring Ridge Surgical Specialists all perform colonoscopy at Surgical Institute of Reading, right next to the offices of Spring Ridge Surgical Specialists in Wyomissing. If you have questions about screening for colon cancer and colonoscopy, please call our offices at 610.375.0500.

– Spring Ridge Surgical Specialists

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Colorectal Cancer Screenings: Take Time to Put Yourself First

Possibly the biggest gift we can give ourselves is time. Time to smell the flowers, go for a long walk or just enjoy a laugh with friends. In our hectic lives, it’s easy to put ourselves last and not take the time we need to check in on our personal health. Even easier is to avoid taking a first step to what we know will help us in the long run. “I can do it tomorrow”, “I feel fine”, “I don’t have the time right now” are common roadblocks we might use to convince ourselves that routine health screenings just don’t fit into our busy lives right now.

Why and When to get Screened for Colorectal Cancer

At Spring Ridge Surgical Specialists, we consult with many patients who come to us hesitant to take the first step in screening for colorectal cancer, one of the most prevalent cancer types in the United States today. It’s important to point out that colorectal cancer often does not produce any symptoms until the disease is in the advanced stage. Whether referred by a family doctor, a family history of colorectal cancer, or having reached the suggested age of 50 to begin screenings, it’s natural to have many questions – some perhaps difficult or embarrassing to ask – but so important as you take an active role in your colorectal care. In this article, we’ll share basic information on the types of screenings and what you might expect with each.

What You Can Expect

The goal of any screening is to detect polyps within the gastrointestinal tract. Your doctor will discuss the screening method best for your individual health needs. If detected, the majority of polyps is usually non-cancerous and not cause for concern if promptly removed. Lab testing of the removed polyps will confirm if cancer is present or not.

  • Colonoscopy is the best test available today that doctors can utilize to detect the presence of polyps and remove them during this minimally invasive procedure.  A day before your procedure, bowel prep will need to be performed at home. During the painless procedure, you will be sedated, asleep and completely comfortable. A long, flexible tube will be inserted and guided throughout the entire colon, producing images the doctor will see on a video monitor to determine if polyps are present.
  • Digital Rectum Exam (DRE) is a painless exam your doctor performs in the office to detect polyps in the rectum or anus.
  • Fecal Occult Blood Test tests for blood in the stool that can’t be seen, but if present may indicate polyps or cancer.

Regardless of the screening method your doctor recommends for you, it’s important to ask as many questions as necessary so you fully understand the procedure. Dr. Robert Howard, Dr. Joseph Levan, and Dr. Thomas Beetel each take pride in educating patients on the benefits of colorectal cancer screenings, and what to expect during a screening procedure.

Most importantly, as an informed patient you have the power to take time for yourself and maintain your best health!

– Spring Ridge Surgical Specialists

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Colon Cancer Surgery: Two Techniques Ensuring Best Outcomes

As discussed in one of our previous blog posts, When to Have a Colonoscopy, the American Cancer Society states colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer for men and women in the United States today. With this high rate of cancer diagnosis, much emphasis is placed on best methods to surgically treat colon cancer to ensure best possible patient outcomes.

When receiving a colon cancer diagnosis, your surgeon is the best resource for answering the many questions you will naturally have in mind. The first question many patients have is in regards to the surgery itself. Today, there are two types of surgeries commonly used to manage colon cancer. Open surgery, the more traditional surgical technique, refers to the process of creating a large abdominal incision to access and treat the cancerous site. Laparoscopic surgery is the minimally invasive alternative to open surgery. With laparoscopic surgery, three or four small keyhole incisions are utilized along with a very small, flexible tube outfitted with a video camera to enable surgeons to clearly see the cancerous site and manage it as needed.   Sometimes, the images seen during a laparoscopic procedure require surgeons to convert to open surgery to effectively treating the cancerous site. Your surgeon will determine the surgery technique best suited to your care needs, factoring in information such as prior surgeries and other medical information. Above all, as a patient you should feel comfortable asking any questions necessary to fully understand your care options. When in doubt, ask!

At Spring Ridge Surgical Specialists, Dr. Joseph Levan, Dr. Thomas Beetel, and Dr. Robert Howard all take pride in having thorough discussions with patients prior to and after colon cancer surgery. With a combined 45 years of experience in treating colon cancer, Dr. Levan, Dr. Beetel, and Dr. Howard offer superior care in all phases of colon cancer management needed for your best possible outcome. Click here to make an appointment today.

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Birthday cake with "50" candle on top

When to have a colonoscopy

A Preventative Measure at Milestone Birthdays

As we age, our self-care regimen needs to grow along with us. Beginning at age 50, what can help keep us healthy is a steady diet of preventative testing to diagnose and treat emerging health concerns.

Among such health care concerns is colorectal cancer, one of the most common forms of cancers among men and women in the United States today. According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer, not including skin cancers. In total, the lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is about 1 in 20. At the same time, colon cancer is one of the most preventable cancers through the use of regular colonoscopies.

Early Action is Key

Providing a suggested timeframe for screenings to detect polyps, the American Cancer Society recommends men and women at average risk for cancer receive colonoscopies every 10 years starting at age 50. Essentially, as a milestone birthday is celebrated starting at age 50, it can serve as a timely reminder to have a screening. Very generally speaking, the earlier screenings occur to detect the presence the potentially cancerous polyps, the better chances are to successfully treat the polyps by surgical removal. Of course, if symptoms such as bleeding or pain are experienced at any time it is important to see a qualified medical provider experienced in colon care as soon as possible.

What to Expect 

As mentioned in one of our previous posts Have questions about endoscopy?”, preparing for a colonoscopy requires patients to follow pre-operative preparation instructions provided by their surgeon prior to the brief surgical procedure. To maximize patient comfort, sedating medication is used during the procedure. Best of all, patients are typically discharged less than an hour after the procedure is performed.

If a biopsy is performed during the colonoscopy, patients of Spring Ridge Surgical Specialists can expect to receive test results within just a few days, if not sooner, as well as a thorough follow up discussion with their surgeon.

Where Will My Procedure Occur?

Dr. Joseph Levan, Dr. Thomas Beetel and Dr. Robert Howard perform colonoscopies at Surgical Institute of Reading, Reading Hospital and St. Joseph Medical Center, depending on patient preference, scheduling availability and insurance requirements.

To make an appointment to see Dr. Levan, Dr. Beetel or Dr. Howard, request an appointment online by CLICKING HERE.


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Have questions about endoscopy?

To help patients better understand endoscopy, Dr. Howard, Dr. Levan and Dr. Beetel (left to right) present the following information.

What is endoscopy?

Endoscopy is an umbrella term referring to the process of diagnosing gastrointestinal tract issues. Surgeons utilize an endoscope, which is a long, narrow, flexible operative instrument containing a very small video camera outfitted with a high-powered light to help detect abnormalities.

For gastrointestinal problems of the esophagus, stomach and the duodenum (first part of the small intestine), an upper GI endoscopy is performed to detect and diagnose ulcers, gastritis, polyps, causes of bleeding or pain, and cancer.

For problems related to the colon, such as inflammation, bleeding or pain, and for colon cancer screening, a lower GI endoscopy is performed. When the entire colon requires examination, the procedure is referred to as a colonoscopy. When a partial examination occurs, such as the rectum and the sigmoid colon (first part of the colon) only, the procedure is called a sigmoidoscopy.

What to expect

Endoscopic procedures require patients to follow pre-operative preparation instructions provided by their surgeon prior to surgery such as limiting food and drink intake a day or two before surgery as well as use of colon cleansing kits.  In most procedures, sedating medication is used to maximize patient comfort. A minimally invasive surgery, endoscopic procedures typically allow patients to be discharged less than an hour after the endoscopy is performed.

If a biopsy is performed during endoscopy, patients of Spring Ridge Surgical Specialists can expect to receive test results within just a few days of the procedure, if not sooner, as well as a thorough follow up discussion with their surgeon.

Where will my procedure occur?

Dr. Levan, Dr. Beetel and Dr. Howard perform endoscopic procedures at Surgical Institute of Reading, Reading Hospital and St. Joseph Medical Center, depending on patient preference, scheduling availability and insurance requirements.

If it has been recommended to you either by your primary care physician or other care provider that an endoscopy is warranted, rest assured Spring Ridge Surgical Specialists provides the expertise needed for a positive experience before, during and after surgery.  To make an appointment to see Dr. Joseph Levan, Dr. Thomas Beetel or Dr. Robert Howard, you can request an appointment online by CLICKING HERE.


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