Treatment for Colorectal Polyps

Due to the risk for cancer (malignancy), colorectal polyps usually are removed surgically. Surgical removal of a polyp is called polypectomy. Intestinal polyps often are removed during colonoscopy, using a wire loop (called a snare) through which a mild electric current is passed or another cutting device. Polyps that are flat and do not have a stem or stalk (pedicle) sometimes require abdominal surgery.

Following removal, the polyp is examined under a microscope to determine if it is cancerous (malignant). Patients who have had a colorectal polyp removed should undergo follow-up colonoscopy every 3–5 years to make sure the condition has not recurred. Complications following polypectomy are rare and include bleeding and injury (e.g., perforation) to the intestinal wall.

Patients with intestinal polyps who have a high risk for colorectal cancer (e.g., those with a personal or family history of the disease) may be treated using a procedure called colectomy, which is surgical removal of part of the colon. In this surgery, the affected portion of the colon is removed and the remaining sections are joined together.

In severe cases, polyposis may require a surgical procedure called an ostomy. This treatment can involve removal of the colon, followed by surgical attachment of the rectum to the small intestine, or complete removal of the colon and rectum. If the entire colon and rectum are removed, an opening is created in the abdominal wall and waste (i.e., fecal matter) from the small intestine is eliminated through this opening. This procedure is called an ileostomy.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 28 Feb 2008

Last Modified: 08 Sep 2015