Background: In the last 15 years, family physicians and general internists have adopted flexible fiberoptic endoscopy as a procedure to screen patients at risk of premature death from colorectal cancer. There has been controversy regarding the ability of non-fellowship-trained primary care physicians to extend this experience to full colonoscopy.
Methods: The results of 1048 consecutive colonoscopy examinations performed by a family physician over a 9-year period were tabulated. Outcomes measured included the reach-the-cecum rate (RCR), use of medication, complication rate, and diagnostic yield. In a convenience sample of 110 cases, the effectiveness of the non-narcotic analgesic ketorolac was assessed by the RCR. Outcomes of cases in which ketorolac was used were compared with cases in which traditional sedation and analgesia were used.
Result: A high diagnostic yield without significant complications was noted. The RCR for nonmedicated patients was 36%. Among all medicated cases, the RCR was 93%. In patients who were given the non-narcotic analgesic ketorolac, the RCR was 96%, compared with 95% in patients not given ketorolac.
Conclusions: A family physician in rural practice was able to attain and sustain a state-of-the-art, reach-the-cecum rate over a 9-year period. This service resulted in a high diagnostic yield, high degree of safety, and satisfactory results for the community. Ketorolac is an effective alternative for patients who may be hypersensitive to narcotic analgesia/sedation.