Is a negative colonoscopy associated with reassurance or improved health-related quality of life in irritable bowel syndrome?

Gastrointest Endosc. 2005 Dec;62(6):892-9. doi: 10.1016/j.gie.2005.08.016.


Background: Although colonoscopy is rarely of clinical use in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), it is, nonetheless, frequently performed in IBS. Proponents contend that a normal colonoscopy provides reassurance and improves health-related quality of life (HRQOL). However, no previous data have measured these effects. We sought to measure the association of a normal colonoscopy with reassurance and HRQOL in patients with IBS aged <50 years.

Methods: We retrospectively evaluated 458 patients with IBS, aged 18 to 49 years. Subjects completed a symptom questionnaire, the Symptom Checklist 90 (SCL-90) psychometric checklist, and the Short Form 36 (SF-36) Health Survey. The main outcomes were HRQOL as measured by the mental component score (MCS) and the physical component score (PCS) of the SF-36 and reassurance as operationalized by a negative response to the question: "Do you think there is something seriously wrong with your body?" The independent variable was presence or absence of a previous normal colonoscopy. We performed regression analysis to control for potential confounders, including timing of colonoscopy.

Results: The unadjusted mean SF-36 PCS was 42 +/- 10 (0-100 scale: 0, worst) in patients with recent colonoscopy (<12 months), 45 +/- 11 in patients with distant colonoscopy (>12 months), and 45 +/- 10 in patients without colonoscopy (p = 0.78). The mean SF-36 MCS in the 3 groups were 42 +/- 13, 44 +/- 11, and 43 +/- 11 (p = 0.57). Colonoscopy did not impact the proportion reassured (69.3%, 67.2%, 66.6%; p = 0.85). There were no significant differences between groups for any outcomes when adjusting for potential confounders.

Conclusions: We found no independent association between a negative colonoscopy and reassurance or improved HRQOL in IBS patients aged <50 years. These results suggest that the role of colonoscopy in IBS may be limited but require confirmation in prospective trials.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health
  • Colonoscopy*
  • Fear
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / psychology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life*
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Surveys and Questionnaires