Is there a role for upper gastrointestinal endoscopy in the evaluation of patients with occult blood-positive stool and negative colonoscopy?

Am J Gastroenterol. 1993 Dec;88(12):2026-9.


Objective: To determine the role of upper gastrointestinal endoscopy in the clinical investigation of patients with occult blood-positive and negative colonoscopy.

Methods: This is a retrospective study of 211 consecutive patients who were investigated by upper gastrointestinal endoscopy for occult blood-positive stool and negative colonoscopy. Patients were categorized into four groups: asymptomatic (n = 117), symptomatic (n = 37), severe anemia (hemoglobin < 10 g/dl) (n = 33), and incomplete (CBC not obtained or insufficient documentation regarding the presence or absence of symptoms) (n = 24).

Results: Eighty-eight of the 211 patients (42%) had abnormal upper gastrointestinal endoscopic findings: 43% of the "asymptomatic" group, 35% of the "symptomatic" group, 45% of the "severe anemia" group, and 42% of the "incomplete" group. The number of patients with abnormal upper gastrointestinal findings increased with age (p = 0.0002). Furthermore, there was a significant difference in upper gastrointestinal lesions between the patients who were 60 yr of age or older, and the patients less than 60 yr of age: 51% compared to 22% (p = 0.00003). All upper gastrointestinal endoscopic findings were benign, with 53 of the 88 patients (60%) having erosive gastritis. However, only 25 of those 88 patients (28%) had a lesion for which a specific treatment was available.

Conclusions: Upper gastrointestinal endoscopy in patients with occult blood-positive stool and negative colonoscopy has a very low yield for significant lesions, not only from a therapeutic standpoint, but also for detection of malignant lesions. Prospective studies are needed to determine which specific groups of patients deserve further investigation.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Colonoscopy*
  • Endoscopy, Gastrointestinal*
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / diagnosis
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / etiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occult Blood*
  • Retrospective Studies