Background and study aim: Small-bowel tumors account for 1% - 3% of all gastrointestinal neoplasms. Recent studies with video capsule endoscopy (VCE) suggest that the frequency of these tumors may be substantially higher than previously reported. The aim of the study was to evaluate the frequency, clinical presentation, diagnostic/therapeutic work-up, and endoscopic appearance of small-bowel tumors in a large population of patients undergoing VCE.
Patients and methods: Identification by a questionnaire of patients with VCE findings suggesting small-bowel tumors and histological confirmation of the neoplasm seen in 29 centers of 10 European Countries.
Results: Of 5129 patients undergoing VCE, 124 (2.4%) had small-bowel tumors (112 primary, 12 metastatic). Among these patients, indications for VCE were: obscure gastrointestinal bleeding (108 patients), abdominal pain (9), search for primary neoplasm (6), diarrhea with malabsorption (1). The main primary small-bowel tumor type was gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) (32%) followed by adenocarcinoma (20%) and carcinoid (15%); 66% of secondary small-bowel tumors were melanomas. Of the tumors, 80.6% were identified solely on the basis of VCE findings. 55 patients underwent VCE as the third procedure after negative bidirectional endoscopy. The lesions were single in 89.5% of cases, and multiple in 10.5%. Retention of the capsule occurred in 9.8% of patients with small-bowel tumors. After VCE, 54/124 patients underwent 57 other examinations before treatment; in these patients enteroscopy, when performed, showed a high diagnostic yield. Treatment was surgery in 95% of cases.
Conclusions: Our data suggest that VCE detects small-bowel tumors in a small proportion of patients undergoing this examination, but the early use of this tool can shorten the diagnostic work-up and influence the subsequent management of these patients.