Background: Retrospective studies of duodenal polyps have shown a prevalence of 0.3%-1.5% in patients referred to upper endoscopy, and histopathologic classifications have been inconsistent.
Methods: A prospective consecutive study was carried out in 584 patients referred to diagnostic upper endoscopy. Symptoms were registered on a questionnaire, endoscopic and histopathologic findings on standard forms. The same pathologist evaluated all biopsy specimens.
Results: Twenty-seven patients had polyps in the first and/or second part of the duodenum, for a prevalence 4.6%. Sixteen polyps were either inflammatory (nine polyps) or ectopic gastric mucosa (seven polyps). Both of these polyp types were practically always non-solitary, sessile, small, and located in the duodenal bulb. Seven polyps were covered by normal mucosa, three being endoscopically typical lipomas. Two polyps were adenomas (0.4% of all the patients and 7% of the polyps), and both were found in the descending part. One hyperplastic polyp of the gastric type and one case of fibrosis were found.
Conclusions: 1) Duodenal polyps are found in 4.6% of patients referred to upper endoscopy and should therefore be looked for. 2) Multiple, small polyps in the duodenal bulb are always benign and need neither biopsy nor treatment (in patients with familial polyposis biopsy is recommended). 3) In the descending duodenum polyps are rare, but a substantial number of them are adenomas. Biopsy is therefore mandatory in this localization.