Are Screening Colonoscopies and a Diagnostic Colonoscopy Different Procedures?


Cancer of the colon threatens the lives of millions of adults every year. When the condition is identified early on, colon and rectal cancer can generally be treated successfully, carrying a high chance of survival. Periodic colorectal cancer testing enables physicians to look for precancerous or suspicious growths in the colon (large intestine) and rectum, and monitor for any further concerns should an individual have a higher risk of developing the disease.

Even though the majority of adults realize the purpose of a colonoscopy, a smaller percentage understand the difference between a screening colonoscopy and a diagnostic colonoscopy. At Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates, our board-certified gastroenterologists commonly provide screening and diagnostic colonoscopies for New Orleans, LA patients. Continue reading to find out additional details concerning these distinct types of colonoscopy procedures, when they could be advised, and how they may help protect your general and digestive health.

When is a screening colonoscopy recommended?

The gastrointestinal (GI) specialists at Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates generally suggest a screening colonoscopy to examine for tissue irregularities in the colon or rectum, growths (also called polyps), or other evidence that colon or rectal is prone form. A screening colonoscopy, also referred to as a preventive colonoscopy, is typically recommended once every decade for individuals age 45 and over who are asymptomatic (having no symptoms) and who carry an average risk of developing colorectal cancer. Such screenings also create baseline data to which subsequent colonoscopies can be compared.

Ideal candidates for a preventive colonoscopy procedure commonly include individuals who exhibit:

  • No personal history of colorectal cancer
  • No symptoms of gastrointestinal health conditions
  • No family history of colon cancer
  • No history of polyps or other irregularities in the large intestine
  • No past or current gastrointestinal health diagnoses

When is a diagnostic colonoscopy needed?

Should any indications of cancerous or precancerous areas be identified, our New Orleans, LA digestive health specialists will likely recommend a diagnostic colonoscopy test. Such instances might include having previous areas of concern (such as polyps in the colon) or having a positive noninvasive colon cancer screening, like Cologuard®, which is a home-based testing process. Diagnostic colonoscopies, additionally referred to as surveillance or follow-up colonoscopies, vary from screening colonoscopies, as such tests are performed when there is a greater chance that cancer could arise or if there are indications that colorectal cancer may already be present.

Ideal candidates for a diagnostic colonoscopy procedure are often people who exhibit:

  • Positive colon cancer screening outcomes
  • Current or previous gastrointestinal health symptoms
  • A history of polyps or other tissue irregularities
  • A history of digestive health problems
  • A personal history of colon cancer

What else should I know about screening vs. diagnostic colonoscopy procedures?

Colonoscopy tests are exceptionally important for identifying and protecting against colon cancer. Even though a screening colonoscopy and a follow-up colonoscopy are often carried out in a similar fashion, the two procedures are performed for different reasons. In addition, insurance coverage for screening vs. diagnostic colonoscopies generally varies. As a result, it is essential to go over your insurance policy and consult your representative to learn details about your personal coverage and plan as it relates to colonoscopy procedures.

Talk with a New Orleans, LA colonoscopy doctor near you

Undergoing routine colonoscopy exams as suggested by a GI physician is essential to maintaining your digestive wellness and general health. Our New Orleans, LA colonoscopy doctors take a patient-focused approach to care and partner closely with every individual to help make sure their unique gastrointestinal concerns are addressed. Talk to our attentive staff today to find out more or to arrange for a colonoscopy consultation at Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates.