Objectives: To determine patient acceptability of barium enema (BE) or CT colonography (CTC).
Methods: After ethical approval, 921 consenting patients with symptoms suggestive of colorectal cancer who had been randomly assigned and completed either BE (N = 606) or CTC (N = 315) received a questionnaire to assess experience of the clinical episode including bowel preparation, procedure and complications. Satisfaction, worry and physical discomfort were assessed using an adapted version of a validated acceptability scale. Non-parametric methods assessed differences between the randomised tests and the effect of patient characteristics.
Results: Patients undergoing BE were significantly less satisfied (median 61, interquartile range [IQR] 54-67 vs. median 64, IQR 56-69; p = 0.003) and experienced more physical discomfort (median 40, IQR 29-52 vs. median 35.5, IQR 25-47; p < 0.001) than those undergoing CTC. Post-test, BE patients were significantly more likely to experience 'abdominal pain/cramps' (68% vs. 57%; p = 0.007), 'soreness' (57% vs. 37%; p < 0.001), 'nausea/vomiting' (16% vs. 8%; p = 0.009), 'soiling' (31% vs. 23%; p = 0.034) and 'wind' (92% vs. 84%; p = 0.001) and in the case of 'wind' to also rate it as severe (27% vs. 15%; p < 0.001).
Conclusion: CTC is associated with significant improvements in patient experience. These data support the case for CTC to replace BE.