Utilization of colonoscopy in the United States: results from a national consortium

Gastrointest Endosc. 2005 Dec;62(6):875-83. doi: 10.1016/j.gie.2005.06.037.


Background: To assess capacity for colonoscopy, we need to understand current utilization of colonoscopy in diverse clinical practice settings. The objective of this study was to determine the utilization of colonoscopy in diverse clinical practice settings.

Methods: The Clinical Outcomes Research Initiative (CORI) data repository, which receives endoscopy reports from 73 diverse adult practice sites in the United States was used. Colonoscopy reports from January 2000 to August 2002 were analyzed to determine the demographic characteristics of adult patients who received a colonoscopy and the procedure indication. The relationship of age, race, gender, and procedure indication was analyzed.

Results: Results of colonoscopies in 146,457 unique patients were analyzed. Of the reports, 68% came from nonacademic settings. Patients less than 50 years of age accounted for 20% of colonoscopies. The most common indications were rectal bleeding (33.6%), irritable bowel symptoms (23.8%), or screening because of a positive family history of colorectal cancer (22.4%) and screening with a primary colonoscopy or a fecal occult blood test (FOBT) (12.8%). In patients 50 years and older, asymptomatic screening (average-risk screening colonoscopy, positive family history, or FOBT positivity) accounted for 38.1% of all colonoscopies. Surveillance colonoscopy in patients with previous cancer or polyps accounted for 21.9% of colonoscopies performed in this age group. Differences in utilization were noted, based on gender and race.

Conclusions: Colonoscopy utilization varies based on age, gender, and race. Colonoscopy often is performed in patients less than 50 years old for irritable bowel symptoms; rectal bleeding; or average-risk screening, for which benefits are uncertain. In patients older than 50 years, surveillance after polyp removal is a common indication and may be overused. Understanding utilization can lead to further study to determine outcomes, to optimize utilization, and to provide a basis for shifting limited resources.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Colonic Polyps / diagnosis
  • Colonoscopy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / diagnosis
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • United States