Barton 1 of 2 hospitals offering hydro preps for colonoscopies

By Kathryn Reed

Air vs. water. Super bad tasting liquid vs. tablets in water. Spending the night in the bathroom vs. sleeping.

Those are some of the differences between the traditional prep for a colonoscopy and using hydrotherapy.

Hydrotherapy has been around for a number of years, but used mostly in the wellness community as a cleansing mechanism for the intestinal system.

Susan Frailey and Dan Norman of Barton Health explain how the hydrotherapy machine works. Photos/Kathryn Reed

Susan Frailey and Dan Norman of Barton Health explain how the hydrotherapy machine works. Photos/Kathryn Reed

Barton Memorial Hospital this spring became the second hospital in the country to offer this procedure. The other is in Connecticut. And there are four freestanding endoscopy centers that use is.

“It’s a standard colonoscopy with a better prep,” explained Susan Frailey, registered nurse at Barton.

While the procedure is new to Barton, Frailey has performed more than 2,000 of them – mostly through a business she used to have in Meyers. Her clients were going to her for digestive health.

One day Barton anticipates the wellness components of hydrotherapy to be part of a larger program it envisions developing.

For now, Dan Norman is the only doctor at Barton using this method. Of the three docs who do colonoscopies Norman is the main guy, having performed more than 40,000 endoscopic procedures in the last 30 years. The two others do a few colonoscopies each month.

Besides having the testimony of Frailey, a study presented to the annual American College of Gastroenterology in 2006 convinced Norman offering an alternative to the Golytely and Fleets Phosphasoda preparations made sense. The latter has recently been pulled from use because of patient deaths.

Anyone who has ingested Golytely knows the taste and subsequent flushing of the colon makes for a long, horrible night that entails being near a bathroom.

Randy Watson, one of the first people to have the hydro prep at Barton, is a believer in it. His first colonoscopy was with the drinks and air prep.

“With the hydrotherapy I really didn’t feel too much. You get a feeling of fullness,” the Zephyr Cove resident told Lake Tahoe News. “It was nothing like you would imagine. It was a very sterile, clean situation.”

The hydrotherapy machine.

The hydrotherapy machine.

And no smell involved.

A little at-home prep is required, but nothing like the horrible gallons of mix of Golytely. People may eat a light breakfast the day before, drink three packets of the Miralax to loosen the stool, and sleep through the night.

What the hydro part entails is arriving at the hospital about two hours before the colonoscopy. The water cleansing is about 45 minutes – the rest is paperwork, admitting and sitting around.

A tube is inserted into the rectum, warm controlled water is put in, and the colon is massaged to release the contents. The flushing is done three to four times to make sure the colon is clean.

A clear panel on the machine that is attached to a wall allows Frailey to know if another flushing is needed.

Then the regular colonoscopy is done, where the interior of the small and large bowels are examined for polyps.

Norman, in his limited use of the hydrotherapy, said it’s producing as clean of a colon as the air prep. He foresees doing a blind study at Barton to measure one procedure against the other so more clinical documentation can be added for the medical community to get educated about the procedure.

Norman said it’s the lack of knowledge about this option that is keeping people from doing it. It costs the patient about $100, whereas the Golytely is a little more than $60. Neither is covered by insurance even though one is needed before a colonoscopy can be performed.

Norman is hoping the hydrotherapy method will get more people thinking about colonoscopies – a procedure that should be done starting at age 50 and then every 10 years for the average person.

This preventative procedure is the main test for colon cancer. Each year about 100,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with colon cancer and another 40,000 with rectal cancer.

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Comments (11)
  1. john barleycorn says - Posted: May 11, 2011

    As a proponent of high colonics once said, “Trust your gut feelings.”

  2. the conservation robot says - Posted: May 11, 2011

    “Neither is covered by insurance even though one is needed before a colonoscopy can be performed.”
    Insurance companies are criminals.

  3. dogwoman says - Posted: May 11, 2011

    Gosh, Bongo, you hate everything I believe in! Insurance companies aren’t criminals. They are businesses for profit. And having to pay a little something for procedures keeps people from over-using and abusing the system, thereby assuring that people who need those services aren’t blocked out by those who simply want them because they’re “free”.
    Only $40 more, might consider it. I’ve had a half dozen colonoscopies because of having had cancer and the normal prep is only bad thing about them. It is, to say the least, uh, draining. . .

  4. tahogal says - Posted: May 11, 2011

    Even though we live at the lake, we have always gone to the GI doctors in
    Carson City. Awesome facility, and the best doctors around. Whatever they recommend, we can live with. Glad there are options on the hill though.

  5. the conservation robot says - Posted: May 11, 2011

    The insurance industry is the most corrupt and immoral industry this country has ever created. Money > health. What a wonderful christian nation we are.
    Leading cause of bankruptcy in this country is…..

  6. Dano says - Posted: May 11, 2011

    I’ll take free enterprise medicine any day over the alternative.

    The best thing we can do for the health insurance industry is allow it to compete across state lines, and to regulate against price gouging.

    As for Barton, I’m glad they’re here, and having been in the GI lab on several occasions they are a wonderful crew from Doc Dan on down.

  7. Barton Memorial Hospital says - Posted: May 11, 2011

    Thank you for this great article on our GI Lab. Barton is proud to have such great staff to help offer these options for colonoscopy patients and we feel the knowledge about our services is vital to the health of our community. Some patients might not otherwise come in to get a colonoscopy due to the intolerance of many of the preparations. We would like to clarify the following in regards to insurance coverage:

    Colon hydrotherapy costs $100 and is not covered by insurance.

    Osmo Prep is a total of 32 pills, which are the size of a calcium tablet. The pills are divided into 8 doses of 4 pills. Each dose is taken with 8 oz of clear fluid of the patient’s choice. Cost is around $90 and most insurance prescription plans do not cover.

    GoLyetly costs around $20 and is covered by most insurance prescription plans. It includes an entire gallon of fluid the patient must drink.

    There is a generic version of GoLyetly that costs around $16 and is covered by most insurances. The patient will drink 16 glasses of fluid.

    The Movi Prep is around $65 and isn’t covered by most insurance prescription plans. It includes is 8 glasses of fluid to drink.

    Sincerely, Donna Moore, Barton Memorial Hospital GI Lab

  8. Clear Waters says - Posted: May 11, 2011

    Dirty wealth people live longer,that’s a fact Robo.
    Body parts are there if you know where to look.So are children,wives,slaves.

    RELIGIONS of the vast world have nothing to do with health care,they like charging you up the yang,but then again, whens the last time you saw a Vet do your pup good with out bucks?

    This town really needs a new Doc Edwards, a Man of Honor.He’s somewhere in time with many saved animals ,friendly licks.

  9. Al Bondigas says - Posted: May 11, 2011

    It’s just a gimmick — something else to charge for and try to make Barton seem cutting edge. And despite the author’s hyperbole, one doesn’t have to drink “gallons” of Golytely. Drink half the Golytele straight without diluting, just knock it back like a shot of tequila, then drink a quart of water. An hour later, do it again. And then go read abook. Save $100. Unless you are into having water flushed up your butt for an hour.

  10. Tucker says - Posted: May 12, 2011

    Note to self; colon cancer is treatable, beatable and often all together avoidable with the minor inconvenience of a screening colonoscopy. Current prep options often deter people for the obvious and often voiced reasons. However, an adequate prep is essential to visualize the entire colon lining. Many folks cannot tolerate the entire prep, or are not compliant with the instructions ( Al ). An inadequate prep increases the likelihood of missing polyps, or worse.

    As someone that has tried both options, I much prefer hydrotherapy!! I also know that the hydrotherapy prep was better and much easier (and I followed each set of directions to the letter). I trust the direct visualization of the prep during hydrotherapy ensures a clear colon.

    As far as bashing Barton for making a buck? Seems to me that they are merely offering an option that appears to help their patients. After all, insurance does not cover hydrotherapy, and I am pretty sure that the $100 does not cover the costs of the hydrotherapy procedure.

    As for the insurance companies, yes we have major problems, to include medical, disability, and cusp. Do not confuse the issues.

    Also, yes, Carson City has fabulous GI professionals. It is a matter of time…they too will offer hydrotherapy…for a buck?

  11. Brian says - Posted: May 12, 2011

    Clear Waters… What??? You have made no sense to me whatsoever! Not only have you made no sense at all, but yeah, my vet has helped out on a vaulentary basis from time to time and went out of their way to make some hard calls a bit more realistic. As for any other thing you may have been trying to relay to others… ???

    Now for the 60 dollar thing VS the 100 dollar thing, most shouldn’t care, if your better off popping the extra 40 bucks, then have at it! this level of cost shouldn’t be a factor when saving lives. When it’s my time, I will try the new one, it seems less trouble, and warm water up the behoula doesn’t really sound all that bad… Argh, did I just say that!