Intestinal Polyps

The issue of intestinal polyps concerns especially the large intestine. The word polyp is a designation for an outgrowth of mucosa and text dedicated to polyps can be found here.


Polyps can be divided according to the histological structure to tumorous and non-tumorous polyps. The non-tumorous polyps are usually inflammatory and grow from mucosa that is irritated by a chronic inflammatory process. The majority of tumor polyps are benign tumors, but they may get malignant when not treated causing the feared colorectal cancer. The intestinal incidence of hundreds or thousands of polyps is called polyposis and it can be found in some genetic diseases such as the familial adenomatous polyposis, Gardner's syndrome and Turcot syndrome. In both of these diseases is the presence of multiple tumor benign polyps.


Intestinal polyps can be an incidental finding. However, their tissue is fragile and it may cause bleeding with occurrence of blood in stool. Chronic bleeding may cause anemia and anemic syndrome, but this is not common in a single polyp. Large polyps can theoretically narrow the cavity of the intestine and cause the intestinal obstruction, but this is rare.


Bleeding polyp can be indirectly found by fecal occult blood test, which can detect even trace amounts of blood in stool invisible for the human eye. The best diagnostic procedure is, however, the colonoscopy. This endoscopic procedure allows visualizing the polyp; evaluating its location and size and taking biopsy for histological examination or removing the polyp entirely (see Treatment).


Intestinal polyp
Schema - polyp found by endoscopic device



As stated above, the classical therapeutic approach is the endoscopic removal of the polyp. The procedure is called polypectomy and it uses special tools inserted through the working canal of a colonoscopic device. When the size of the polyp is too large and endoscopically irremovable, the best therapeutic option is surgical operation with removal of the polyp and surrounding part of the intestine. In inherited diseases with occurrence of hundreds or thousands of benign tumorous polyps, the only option is complete surgical removal of the whole large intestine.


Jiri Stefanek, MD  Author of texts: Jiri Stefanek, MD
 Sources: basic text sources