Burning Questions

Dr. Paul Nassif explains the importance of colonoscopies and why he was so full of hot air.

Jan 23, 2012

On this week's episode, as many of you know, I got a colonoscopy. The American Cancer Society recommends that once you're past 50, you should schedule procedures like this regularly or risk something far more serious. I'm not past 50 yet, but I'm close enough -- and I was in the office for an upper endoscopy due to reflux anyway. So what you saw was the aftermath of me trying to be proactive and responsible.

And yes, it was a little funny to watch.

I'm lucky to know Dr. Marc Edelstein, who is not only a friend but also a great physician. He tells me that that colonoscopy is considered the gold standard for colorectal cancer screening, and that screening allows doctors to find and remove any problem polyps. Since colon cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S., it's key to catch any potential issues early.

Which brings us to the procedure.

There's not much that's pleasant about a colonoscopy. The preparation includes a liquid fast and colon cleansing beforehand (that’s the worst part) so the doctor can have a clean slate. I had to have the enema because I couldn’t finish the medicine that makes you empty your colon. Next, the anesthesiologist sedates you for the procedure. Take it from someone who's been on both sides of that mask: I prefer to be supervising the anesthesiologist rather than the other way around! It's routine for doctors to introduce air into your colon, which helps them with visibility. This air, once the procedure is completed, has to escape. Which is what you heard on Monday's episode.

So, if Adrienne says I'm full of hot air, I reply (with all due respect) that it's in the name of early detection and good health.

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