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Colonoscopy in Elderly People is a Safe Procedure with a High Diagnostic Yield: A Prospective Comparative Study of 2000 Patients
Submitted 15 March 2005
Accepted after revision 22 June 2005
10 March 2006 (online)
Background and Study Aims: Optical colonoscopy is considered the gold standard for colorectal examination and has the advantage of allowing biopsies and polypectomy. However, the data on its safety and effectiveness in the elderly population are limited and somewhat conflicting. We prospectively assessed whether there are differences in completion rates, diagnostic yield, complication rates and 30-day mortality between patients aged ≥ 65 years and patients aged < 65 undergoing colonoscopy at our centre.
Patients and Methods: Data were collected prospectively on 2000 colonoscopies performed over a 2-year period (January 2002 to January 2004). We compared 1000 consecutive colonoscopies in patients aged ≥ 65 with 1000 consecutive colonoscopies in patients aged < 65 (control group). Data were collected on sedation; on completion rates, both crude and adjusted to discount failures due to obstructive disease; on diagnostic yield; complications, and on 30-day mortality.
Results: The median age was 75 years (51 % women) for the elderly group and 54 years (59 % women) for controls. The proportion of patients who received sedation was similar for both groups (59 % vs. 62 %, P = 0.97) but the mean dose of midazolam was lower in the elderly group (3.8 mg vs. 4.5 mg, P < 0.0001). The crude completion rate was lower for the elderly group (81.8 % vs. 86.5 %, P = 0.004), but the adjusted rate was similar for both groups (88.1 % elderly vs. 87.6 % control, P = 0.18). The overall diagnostic yield was higher in the elderly group (65 % vs. 45 %, P < 0.0001) with higher rates of carcinoma detected (7.1 % vs. 1.3 %, P < 0.0001). The complication rate was low (0.2 % per group).
Conclusions: Colonoscopy in the elderly is safe and effective with a high diagnostic yield. Colonoscopy may now be the imaging modality of choice in the elderly population.
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D. P. Hurlstone, M. B. Ch. B.
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