Development and Validation of an Algorithm for Classifying Colonoscopy Indication

Gastrointest Endosc. 2015 Mar;81(3):575-582.e4. doi: 10.1016/j.gie.2014.07.031. Epub 2015 Jan 8.


Background: Accurate determination of colonoscopy indication is required for managing clinical programs and performing research; however, existing algorithms that use available electronic databases (eg, diagnostic and procedure codes) have yielded limited accuracy.

Objective: To develop and validate an algorithm for classifying colonoscopy indication that uses comprehensive electronic medical data sources.

Design: We developed an algorithm for classifying colonoscopy indication by using commonly available electronic diagnostic, pathology, cancer, and laboratory test databases and validated its performance characteristics in comparison with a comprehensive review of patient medical records. We also evaluated the influence of each data source on the algorithm's performance characteristics.

Setting: Kaiser Permanente Northern California healthcare system.

Patients: A total of 300 patients who underwent colonoscopy between 2007 and 2010.

Interventions: Colonoscopy.

Main outcome measurements: Algorithm's sensitivity, specificity, and positive predictive value (PPV) for classifying screening, surveillance, and diagnostic colonoscopies. The reference standard was the indication assigned after comprehensive medical record review.

Results: For screening indications, the algorithm's sensitivity was 88.5% (95% confidence interval [CI], 80.4%-91.7%), specificity was 91.7% (95% CI, 87.0%-95.1%), and PPV was 83.3% (95% CI, 74.7%-90.0%). For surveillance indications, the algorithm's sensitivity was 93.4% (95% CI, 86.2%-97.5%), specificity was 92.8% (95% CI, 88.4%-95.9%), and PPV was 85.0% (95% CI, 76.5%-91.4%). The algorithm's sensitivity, specificity, and PPV for diagnostic indications were 81.4% (95% CI, 73.0%-88.1%), 96.8% (95% CI, 93.2%-98.8%), and 93.9% (95% CI, 87.2%-97.7%), respectively.

Limitations: Validation was confined to a single healthcare system.

Conclusion: An algorithm that uses commonly available modern electronic medical data sources yielded a high sensitivity, specificity, and PPV for classifying screening, surveillance, and diagnostic colonoscopy indications. This algorithm had greater accuracy than the indication listed on the colonoscopy report.

Publication types

  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Algorithms*
  • Colonic Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Colonic Diseases / prevention & control
  • Colonoscopy*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Decision Support Techniques*
  • Early Detection of Cancer
  • Electronic Health Records
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Single-Blind Method