The European panel on the appropriateness of gastrointestinal endoscopy guidelines colonoscopy in an open-access endoscopy unit: a prospective study

Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2005 Mar 1;21(5):609-13. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2036.2005.02359.x.


Background: The demand for gastrointestinal endoscopy is increasing in most developed countries, resulting in an important rise in overall costs and waiting lists for endoscopic procedures. Therefore, adherence to appropriate indications for these procedures is essential for the rational use of finite resources in an open-access system.

Aim: To assess indications and appropriateness of colonoscopy according to the European Panel on the Appropriateness of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (EPAGE) criteria.

Methods: From May to June 2004, all consecutive patients referred to our Unit for open-access colonoscopy were considered for inclusion in this prospective study. Appropriateness of each colonoscopy was established according to the EPAGE criteria. In order to evaluate whether appropriateness of use correlated with the diagnostic yield of colonoscopy, relevant endoscopic findings were also recorded.

Results: A total of 350 consecutive patients were included in the study. In 38 of them, the colonoscopy indication was not listed in the EPAGE guidelines and, consequently, they were not evaluated. In the remaining 312 patients, the indication for the procedure was considered inappropriate in 73 (23%) patients. Both referring doctor characteristics (specialty and health care setting) and patient data (age) correlated with appropriateness of endoscopy. The diagnostic yield was significantly higher for appropriate colonoscopies (42%) than in those judged inappropriate (21%) (P = 0.001).

Conclusions: A noteworthy proportion of patients referred for colonoscopy to an open-access endoscopy unit are considered inappropriate because of their indication, with significant differences among specialties. These results suggest that implementation of validated guidelines for its appropriate use could improve this situation and, considering the correlation between appropriateness and diagnostic yield, even contribute to improve the prognosis of patients with colorectal diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Colonoscopy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Services Misuse / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic / standards*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Referral and Consultation / statistics & numerical data