Home E-Weekly April 3, 2012

Poor Bowel Preparation Hides Pre-Cancerous Polyps During Colonoscopy

Published: April 2, 2012

Doctors often miss potentially cancerous polyps in patients who don't sufficiently cleanse their bowels before undergoing a colonoscopy, according to research.

Washington University School of Medicine gastroenterologists found that doctors missed at least 1 pre-cancerous growth in about 33% of patients that didn't adequately prepare for the procedure. These polyps and other indicators of cancer risks went undetected until patients had their next colonoscopy months later.

Researchers noted that the new study is the first to demonstrate the potential consequences of poor bowel preparation among outpatients at average risk, adding that the findings suggest colonoscopies should be stopped and rescheduled if the physician has difficulty seeing the colon due to inadequate bowel preparation.

"We can often detect preparation problems during the first few minutes of the procedure," says Reena Chokshi, MD, a gastroenterology fellow at Washington University and an author of the study. "And based on this study, we would say that rather than subjecting a patient to the potential risks of a full colonoscopy when we may not be able to detect polyps or other pre-cancerous growths called adenomas, it may be better to bring that patient back as soon as possible for a repeat procedure with better bowel preparation."

Mark McGraw

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