Background and study aims: Appropriateness of use of colonoscopy is an important issue in health care in the quest to improve quality of care while at the same time containing costs. This prospective study examined whether detailed and explicit appropriateness criteria significantly improve the diagnostic yield of colonoscopy.
Patients and methods: Consecutive patients referred for diagnostic colonoscopy at five centers (one university hospital and its outpatient department, two district hospitals, and two gastroenterology practices) were prospectively studied over a 17-month period. The appropriateness of the indications for these colonoscopies was assessed using explicit Swiss criteria developed by the Rand Corporation/University of California at Los Angeles (RAND/UCLA) panel method, and the relationship between appropriateness of use and the presence of clinically relevant endoscopic lesions was analysed.
Results: 1188 patients were included in the study. Indications for 1144 (96.3 %) of the colonoscopies could be evaluated using explicit criteria; 64.1 % of the colonoscopies were judged appropriate, 13.3 % uncertain and 22.6 % inappropriate. Significant endoscopic lesions were found in 23.8 % of the colonoscopies. Colonoscopies judged appropriate or uncertain yielded significantly more relevant lesions than did those judged to be inappropriate (25.6 % vs. 17.4 %; P = 0.007). Of 51 colon cancers, all but one were found in colonoscopies judged to be appropriate or uncertain. In a multivariate analysis, the diagnostic yield of colonoscopy was significantly influenced by appropriateness, patient gender and treatment setting.
Conclusions: The use of detailed and explicit appropriateness criteria for colonoscopy significantly enhances the identification of relevant lesions and in particular of colon cancer. The use of such criteria could therefore improve patient selection for colonoscopy and thus contribute to efforts aimed at enhancing the quality and efficiency of care.