How Are Colorectal Polyps Diagnosed?

How Are Colorectal Polyps Diagnosed?

Colorectal polyps are found through screening tests. These tests play a crucial role in detecting precancerous polyps and preventing colon cancer.

There are several types of screening tests for colorectal polyps, including:

  • Colonoscopy. During a colonoscopy, a trained specialist (gastroenterologist or colorectal surgeon) will insert a long, thin tube with a light and camera on the end into your rectum and colon. The doctor will look for colorectal polyps and, if found, remove them or a tissue sample to be examined at a laboratory. This procedure is done under sedation and can take around 30 to 60 minutes.
  • CT colonoscopy. Also referred to as a virtual colonoscopy, an X-ray image of your colon is created with a computer. If a polyp is discovered, you will undergo a colonoscopy to have it removed.
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy. Like a colonoscopy, a flexible sigmoidoscopy uses a long, flexible tube with a camera and light at the end to examine your colon. Because a flexible sigmoidoscopy only looks at the lower, last third of your colon, it is an outpatient procedure; it cannot examine the entire colon. Any polyps found will be removed or sampled for testing.
  • Stool-based testing. A sample of your feces is examined for traces of blood, and a stool DNA test checks for abnormal genetic changes. If irregularities are found, a colonoscopy will be necessary. This noninvasive screening test is generally recommended for people with low to average risk of having colorectal polyps.

How Are Colorectal Polyps Treated?

How Are Colorectal Polyps Treated?

Once detected, most colorectal polyps are removed during a colonoscopy. NewYork-Presbyterian utilizes cutting-edge options for polyp removal surgery, including for large or hard-to-reach rectal and colon polyps.

Options for polyp removal surgery can include:

  • Polypectomy: This minimally-invasive procedure for smaller polyps can be performed during a colonoscopy. A tool is inserted into the rectum and colon that can cut off the polyp with forceps or use a snare with a wire loop that will burn through the base of a larger polyp.
  • Laparoscopic surgery: For larger or hard-to-reach polyps that can’t be removed during a routine colonoscopy, a fiber-optic instrument called a laparoscope is inserted into a small incision in the abdomen to aid in the surgical removal of the polyp.
  • Total proctocolectomy: This colon polyp treatment may be required for those with an inherited syndrome such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or a history of chronic polyps. It involves the removal of the colon or rectum and can protect you from colon cancer.

Colon polyp removal side effects can vary depending on the type of procedure performed. For less invasive treatments, such as polypectomy, you may experience cramping, gas, or light bleeding.

Complications from a polypectomy are rare, but you should report the following symptoms to your doctor immediately:

  • Heavy bleeding
  • Fever or chills, indicating a possible infection
  • Severe pain or bloating in your abdomen
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Vomiting



Most smaller polyps do not cause pain. Larger polyps can cause cramping in the abdomen.

Small colorectal polyps can be removed with forceps during a polypectomy — larger ones may require a snare with a wire loop that burns through the base of the polyp. Some larger or hard-to-reach polyps may require laparoscopic surgery.

Foods linked to developing polyps in the colon include fatty or fried foods, beef, pork, and processed meats such as hot dogs or sausage.

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Trust NewYork-Presbyterian for Colorectal Polyps Treatment

Removing colorectal polyps is the best way to prevent colon cancer. The leading gastroenterologists and colorectal surgeons at NewYork-Presbyterian can recognize the signs and symptoms of colon polyps and provide an expert diagnosis and individualized treatment plan.

Take charge of your colorectal health. Reach out to NewYork-Presbyterian today to discuss your risk factors for colon polyps or schedule a potentially life-saving screening.