Understanding Minor Rectal Bleeding

Welcome to our Patient Education page!

Our team of specialists and staff strive to improve the overall health of our patients by focusing on preventing, diagnosing and treating conditions associated with your digestive system. Please use the search field below to browse our website. You'll find a wide array of information about our office, your digestive health, and treatments available. If you have questions or need to schedule an appointment, contact our office.

Screening or Diagnostic Colonoscopy?

All colonoscopies, whether diagnostic or screening, are billed under the CPT/Procedure code 45378.  The diagnosis or reason for the colonoscopy is what determines if the procedure is diagnostic/surveillance or preventative/screening. 
 

Diagnostic/Surveillance Colonoscopy: 

The patient has past and/or present gastrointestinal symptoms, polyps, GI disease, iron deficiency anemia and/or any other abnormal tests OR the patient is currently asymptomatic (no gastrointestinal symptoms either past or present) but has a personal history of GI disease, personal and/or family history of colon polyps and/or colon cancer.  Patients in this category are required to undergo colonoscopy surveillance at shortened intervals (e.g. every 2-5 years). 

Insurance plans process these claims subject to the individuals deductible and co-insurance requirements.

Preventative Screening Colonoscopy:

The patient is asymptomatic (no gastrointestinal symptoms either past or present), age 50 or greater, has no personal or family history of GI disease, colon polyps, and/or cancer.  The patient has not undergone a colonoscopy within the last 10 years.

Insurance plans usually process these claims under the wellness benefit, payable at 100% if it is a benefit of the individual’s health insurance plan.

Frequently asked questions:

Who will bill me?

You may receive bills for your procedure from the physician, the facility, anesthesia, pathologist and/or laboratory. 

Can the physician change, add, or delete my diagnosis so that my procedure can be considered a preventative/wellness/routine screening?

NO!  The patient encounter is documented as a medical record from the information you have provided, as well as what is obtained during our pre-procedure history and assessment.  It is a binding legal document that cannot be changed to facilitate better insurance coverage.

What if my insurance company tells me that the doctor can change, add or delete a CPT or diagnosis code?

This happens a lot. Often the representative will tell the patient that if the “doctor had coded this as a screening, it would be paid at 100%."  A member services representative should never suggest a physician alter a medical record for billing purposes. 


FAQS - Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How long will my procedure take?
A: Plan to spend 2- 2 1/2 hours with us from the time you arrive until when you are released to go home. The procedures themselves are relatively quick.
- An upper endoscopy takes 8-10 minutes, depending on what is found and the need for biopsies.
- A colonoscopy usually takes about 20-25 minutes, again depending on the findings and need for polyp removal, biopsies, etc.
The rest of your stay involves going over the consent prior to the procedure, a physical assessment, taking vital signs, placing an IV and attaching you to a continuous monitor. After the procedure, you will stay under our observation until you are deemed ready to be driven home.
 
Q: Can I drive myself home after the procedure?
A: No. The anesthesia and sedation we use, while relatively short-acting, can have subtle effects for hours after your procedure. Possible drowsiness and delayed reaction times make driving potentially dangerous. Therefore, having someone drive you home is necessary. You may drive and return to normal activities the following day.
 
Q: How soon can I eat and drink after my procedure?
A: Usually immediately after you leave the office, unless you are told otherwise. It is best to avoid heavy meals for that day.
 
Q: Can I take routine medications the day of the procedure?
A: Please do not take any of your medications except those for blood pressure, heart and seizures unless otherwise instructed by your physician.
 
Q: Do I need antibiotics prior to my procedure for an artificial joint?
A: No. The American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy has concluded that antibiotic use for a patient with an artificial joint is not necessary.
 
Q: What happens if I begin to vomit during my prep?
A: Wait 1-2 hours to allow your stomach to settle. Start to drink the solution at a slower pace- every 20-30 minutes. This will take longer but should keep you from vomiting the rest of the solution.
 
Q: I have my period. Can I still have my colonoscopy?
A: Yes. This will not interfere with your procedure. You may use a tampon during the procedure.
 
Q: Do I have to drink all of my prep?
A: Yes. You want your colon completely cleaned out. This allows the physician to find and treat the smallest and flattest polyps.
 
Q: I’m diabetic. What precautions should I take?
A: If you are diabetic, we will give you special instructions. You will need to let us know ALL of your medications and doses. You should check your blood sugars periodically throughout the day of the prep and the procedure. Since you are on clear liquids, your blood sugar will tend to drop faster than normal. To avoid this, be sure to include some liquids with sugar.
 
Q: What if I forget to stop my blood thinners?
A: Please contact the office.
 
Q: Can I take over the counter medications with my prep?
A: Most over the counter medications are acceptable except fish oil, aspirin, Motrin, Advil, ibuprofen, Aleve, naprosyn, naproxen or iron supplements. Tylenol will not interfere with your procedure.
 
Q: Is it OK to drink alcohol?
A: NO! We strongly suggest that you avoid all alcohol before your procedure as it can cause dehydration and may thin your blood.
 
Q: Can I brush my teeth?
A: Yes.
 
Q: Can I chew gum or suck on hard candy?
A: Yes, but no red candy or candy with soft centers. Nothing after midnight.
 
Q: What can I take for a headache?
A: Tylenol or Extra-Strength Tylenol only.

This information was developed by the Publications Committee of the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE). For more information about ASGE, visit www.asge.org.

This information is intended only to provide general guidance. It does not provide definitive medical advice. It is important that you consult your doctor about your specific condition.

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To evaluate minor rectal bleeding, your doctor may perform a digital rectal examination. In addition, an endoscopic procedure such as anoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy may be recommended.

Minor rectal bleeding refers to the passage of a few drops of bright red (fresh) blood from the rectum, which may appear on the stool, on the toilet paper or in the toilet bowl.

This brochure addresses minor rectal bleeding that occurs from time to time. Continuous passage of significantly greater amounts of blood from the rectum or stools that appear black, tarry or maroon in color can be caused by other diseases that will not be discussed here. Call your doctor immediately if these more serious conditions occur. Because there are several possible causes for minor rectal bleeding, a complete evaluation and early diagnosis by your doctor is very important. Rectal bleeding, whether it is minor or not, can be a symptom of colon cancer, a type of cancer that can be cured if detected early.

What are hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids (also called piles) are swollen blood vessels in the anus and rectum that become engorged from increased pressure, similar to what occurs in varicose veins in the legs. Hemorrhoids can either be internal (inside the anus) or external (under the skin around the anus). Hemorrhoids are the most common cause of minor rectal bleeding, and are typically not associated with pain. Bleeding from hemorrhoids is usually associated with bowel movements, or it may also stain the toilet paper with blood. The exact cause of bleeding from hemorrhoids is not known, but it often seems to be related to constipation, diarrhea, sitting or standing for long periods, obesity, heavy lifting and pregnancy. Symptoms from hemorrhoids may run in some families. Hemorrhoids are also more common as we get older. Fortunately, this very common condition does not lead to cancer.

Hemorrhoids and rectal polyps are common causes of minor rectal bleeding.

How are hemorrhoids treated?

Medical treatment of hemorrhoids includes treatment of any underlying constipation, taking warm baths and applying an over-the-counter cream or suppository that may contain hydrocortisone. If medical treatment fails there are a number of ways to reduce the size or eliminate internal hemorrhoids. Each method varies in its success rate, risks and recovery time. Your doctor will discuss these options with you. Rubber band ligation is the most common outpatient procedure for hemorrhoids in the United States. It involves placing rubber bands around the base of an internal hemorrhoid to cut off its blood supply. This causes the hemorrhoid to shrink, and in a few days both the hemorrhoid and the rubber band fall off during a bowel movement. Possible complications include pain, bleeding and infection. After band ligation, your doctor may prescribe medications, including pain medication and stool softeners, before sending you home. Contact your doctor immediately if you notice severe pain, fever or significant rectal bleeding. Laser or infrared coagulation and sclerotherapy (injection of medicine directly into the hemorrhoids) are also office-based treatment procedures, although they are less common. Surgery to remove hemorrhoids may be required in severe cases or if symptoms persist despite rubber band ligation, coagulation or sclerotherapy.

What are anal fissures?

Tears that occur in the lining of the anus are called anal fissures. This condition is most commonly caused by constipation and passing hard stools, although it may also result from diarrhea or inflammation in the anus. In addition to causing bleeding from the rectum, anal fissures may also cause a lot of pain during and immediately after bowel movements. Most fissures are treated successfully with simple remedies such as fiber supplements, stool softeners (if constipation is the cause) and warm baths. Your doctor may also prescribe a cream to soothe the inflamed area. Other options for fissures that do not heal with medication include treatment to relax the muscles around the anus (sphincters) or surgery.

In a colonoscopy, the physician passes the endoscope through your rectum and into the colon to examine the tissue of the colon wall for abnormalities such as polyps.

What is proctitis?

Proctitis refers to inflammation of the lining of the rectum. It can be caused by previous radiation therapy for various cancers, medications, infections or a limited form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It may cause the sensation that you didn't completely empty your bowels after a bowel movement, and may give you the frequent urge to have a bowel movement. Other symptoms include passing mucus through the rectum, rectal bleeding and pain in the area of the anus and rectum. Treatment for proctitis depends on the cause. Your doctor will discuss the appropriate course of action with you.

What are colon polyps?

Polyps are benign growths within the lining of the large bowel. Although most do not cause symptoms, some polyps located in the lower colon and rectum may cause minor bleeding. It is important to remove these polyps because some of them may later turn into colon cancer if left untreated.

What is colon cancer?

Colon cancer refers to cancer that starts in the large intestine. It can affect both men and women of all ethnic backgrounds and is the second most common cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Fortunately, it is generally a slow-growing cancer that can be cured if detected early. Most colon cancers develop from colon polyps over a period of several years. Therefore, removing colon polyps reduces the risk for colon cancer. Anal cancer is less common but curable when diagnosed early.

Most colon cancers develop from colon polyps over a period of several years. Therefore, removing colon polyps reduces the risk for colon cancer.

What are rectal ulcers?

Solitary rectal ulcer syndrome is an uncommon condition that can affect both men and women, and is associated with long-standing constipation and prolonged straining during bowel movement. In this condition, an area in the rectum (typically in the form of a single ulcer) leads to passing blood and mucus from the rectum. Treatment involves fiber supplements to relieve constipation. For those with significant symptoms, surgery may be required.

How is minor rectal bleeding evaluated?

Your doctor may examine the anus visually to look for anal fissures, cancer or external hemorrhoids, or the doctor may perform an internal examination with a gloved, lubricated finger to feel for abnormalities in the lower rectum and anal canal.If indicated, your doctor may also perform a procedure called colonoscopy. In this procedure, a flexible, lighted tube about the thickness of your finger is inserted into the anus to examine the entire colon. Sedative medications are typically given for colonoscopy to make you sleepy and decrease any discomfort. As an alternative, to evaluate your bleeding, your doctor may recommend a flexible sigmoidoscopy, which uses a shorter tube with a camera to examine the lower colon and rectum. To examine only the lower rectum and anal canal, an anoscope may be used. This very short (3 to 4 inch) tube is especially useful when your doctor suspects hemorrhoids, anal cancer or anal fissures.

What can I do to prevent further rectal bleeding?

This depends on the cause of the rectal bleeding. You should talk to your doctor about specific management options.

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