Background and study aim: Patients with longstanding ulcerative colitis are at increased risk of developing colorectal cancer. Colonoscopic surveillance is advised, but the detection of neoplasia by conventional colonoscopy is difficult. The aim of this study was to compare the accuracy of narrow-band imaging (NBI), a new imaging technique, with standard colonoscopy for the detection of neoplasia in patients with longstanding ulcerative colitis.
Patients and methods: This was a prospective, randomized, crossover study of 42 patients with longstanding ulcerative colitis. All participants underwent NBI and conventional colonoscopy with at least 3 weeks between the procedures. Randomization determined the order of the examinations. Targeted biopsies were taken during both procedures; additional random biopsies were taken at conventional colonoscopy only. The number of patients with neoplasia detected by targeted biopsies was used to assess the sensitivity for each technique.
Results: With NBI, 52 suspicious lesions were detected in 17 patients, compared with 28 suspicious lesions in 13 patients detected during conventional colonoscopy. Histopathological evaluation of targeted biopsies revealed 11 patients with neoplasia: in four patients the neoplasia was detected by both techniques, in four patients neoplasia was detected only by NBI, and in three patients neoplasia was detected only by conventional colonoscopy ( P = 0.705). Aside from targeted biopsies, 1522 random biopsies were taken. These revealed one additional patient with dysplasia that was not detected by either technique.
Conclusions: The sensitivity of the studied first-generation NBI system for the detection of patients with neoplasia seems to be comparable to conventional colonoscopy, although more suspicious lesions were found during NBI. We believe that it is still too early to stop taking additional random biopsies at surveillance colonoscopy in patients with ulcerative colitis.