Colonoscopies save lives. HNN’s Annalisa Burgos got one to show you how it’s done

HNN reporter Annalisa Burgos walks you through what the procedure entails.
Published: Mar. 16, 2023 at 5:06 PM HST|Updated: Mar. 16, 2023 at 5:27 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Getting a colonoscopy can feel a bit awkward.

The idea of a long tube with a fiberoptic camera inside your large intestine sounds invasive.

But it’s recommended for everyone aged 45-75 and a vital screening tool for growths called polyps before they turn into cancer. The process begins the day before the procedure.

Many say the worst part of a colonoscopy is actually the prep because you have to drink laxatives to induce bowel movements to completely flush out your system so the doctor has a clear view of your colon.

For this story, I decided to get a colonoscopy to walk you through the procedure step-by-step.

I started with laxative pills and drank a mixture of Gatorade and laxative powder.

As expected, the medicine made me go to the bathroom several times with diarrhea.

I checked in for my colonoscopy at the Pacific Endoscopy Center in Pearl City and met Dr. Yousif A-Rahim, a gastroenterology expert who has performed the procedure thousands of times.

I then changed into a medical gown and nurses asked about my medical history, took my vitals, set up an IV and explained what will happen. I was given general anesthesia so I didn’t feel a thing.

After wheeling me into the exam room, I shared some laughter with the staff to calm my nerves before the anesthesia puts me to sleep.

During the screening, Dr. A-Rahim explained what he’s looking for:

“Everybody’s colon looks the same from the inside. Once it’s all cleared of debris. This is what it looks like. It’s clear, it’s shiny, it actually is odorless. And so this is why this procedure makes sense that you can see anything on the lining, for instance, this is a little polyp here we’re gonna take right now. And the green box is actually not only that it demarcates the polyp but we use a system here called GI Genius, which is artificial intelligence, the first artificial intelligence for colonoscopy that is FDA approved in the United States.”

A lasso-like device is used to remove the poylp. A-Rahim screened 6 to 7 feet of my colon and collected three polyps. The growths are sent to a lab to find out if they were precancerous.

About 20 minutes later, I’m in recovery where a nurse reviewed the report with me.

I’m told three polyps is a lot for someone my age and without a family history of colon cancer. Had they gone unnoticed, they would have grown,

Except for the frequent bowel movements during prep, the process is relatively easy.

I had no pain and I was able to get three potentially cancerous growths out of my colon.

Raising awareness about colon cancer and the importance of screening and early detection are the main goals of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

The state requires health insurance cover the procedure for patients. So there’s no excuse not to get it done.

The public is encouraged to visit, to learn more about colon cancer, screening recommendations, and options for screening tests.

For more information on how Hawaii doctors are using AI to help lower colon cancer rates, click here.