Diminutive colonic polyps: histopathology, spatial distribution, concomitant significant lesions, and treatment complications

Am J Gastroenterol. 1995 Jan;90(1):24-8.


Objectives: Our objectives in this study were to determine diminutive colonic polyp histology, distribution, frequency of significant synchronous neoplastic lesions, and treatment complications.

Methods: We evaluated consecutive colonoscopic examinations in which one or more diminutive polyps were detected over a 36-month period; these examinations had been entered into an endoscopy database at the time of colonoscopy.

Results: A total of 1964 diminutive polyps were found and removed in 753 colonoscopies; 1525 were removed by hot biopsy, 436 were removed by cold biopsy, and three were removed by snare. Of the diminutive polyps, 40.7% were adenomatous, 37.2% were hyperplastic, 17.9% were mucosal tags or lymphoid aggregates, and 4.3% were mixed; 0.26% contained atypia, and none were cancerous. In the right colon and transverse colon, diminutive polyps were more likely to be neoplastic (p < 0.0001), but in the left colon they were more likely to be nonneoplastic (p < 0.0001). The prevalence of synchronous neoplastic lesions was 21.5%. No perforations were seen; however, significant hemorrhages occurred in six cases in which hot biopsy was used. The risk of a significant hemorrhage from hot biopsy of diminutive polyps was 0.39%. The risk of hot biopsy-induced hemorrhage was significantly higher in the right colon than in the transverse colon and left colon (p < 0.05). The risk in the cecum was 1.33%; in the ascending colon it was 1.03%, and for the remainder of the colon it was 0.24%.

Conclusions: Most diminutive polyps proximal to the left colon are neoplastic. The decision to use the hot biopsy or cold biopsy technique to eradicate diminutive polyps should take into account the location of the polyp because of the significantly increased risk of hemorrhage with hot biopsies in the right colon.

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma / pathology
  • Aged
  • Biopsy / methods
  • Carcinoma / pathology
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Colonic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Colonic Polyps / pathology*
  • Colonic Polyps / surgery
  • Colonoscopy / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications*
  • Retrospective Studies