The intelligent, painless, "germ-free" colonoscopy: A Columbus' egg for increasing population adherence to colorectal cancer screening?

Dig Liver Dis. 2010 Dec;42(12):839-43. doi: 10.1016/j.dld.2010.06.007. Epub 2010 Aug 4.


Colorectal cancer (CRC) represents a major cause of morbidity and mortality. Although it is widely accepted that CRC screening in average risk populations lowers CRC incidence and mortality, a disappointedly low adherence rate to both faecal occult blood testing and colonoscopy-based screening programs has been observed in Italy and in other European countries. Main reasons for the low acceptance of colonoscopy-based CRC screening has been ascribed to lack of recommendations given by general practitioners, fear of discomfort or complications, embarrassment, and avoidance of unpleasant preparation. New advances in endoscopic technology such as colon capsule and robotic colonoscopy might represent the ideal tool for CRC screening since they reduce or eliminate procedure-related pain and discomfort. Moreover, no disinfection between procedures is required. Motion of the new probes along the gastrointestinal tract is achieved either in passive modality by utilizing the gut peristalsis (colon capsule) or in active "intelligent" modality by means of computer-assisted propulsion (robotic colonoscopy). In this review, the preliminary clinical results obtained with the new devices are summarized. It is expected that the new instruments will be soon available in clinical practice with the hope of increasing adherence to CRC screening programs.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Capsule Endoscopy
  • Colonoscopy* / instrumentation
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Early Detection of Cancer
  • Female
  • Guideline Adherence
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Male
  • Occult Blood
  • Patient Compliance
  • Robotics