Guidelines for clinical practice are intended to suggest preferable approaches to particular medical problems as established by interpretation and collation of scientifically valid research, derived from extensive review of published literature. When data are not available that will withstand objective scrutiny, a recommendation may be made based on a consensus of experts. Guidelines are intended to apply to the clinical situation for all physicians without regard to specialty. Guidelines are intended to be flexible, not necessarily indicating the only acceptable approach, and should be distinguished from standards of care that are inflexible and rarely violated. Given the wide range of choices in any health care problem, the physician should select the course best suited to the individual patient and the clinical situation presented. These guidelines are developed under the auspices of the American College of Gastroenterology and its practice parameters committee. These guidelines are also approved by the governing boards of the American Gastroenterological Association, American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, and American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases. Expert opinion is solicited from the outset for the document. Guidelines are reviewed in depth by the committee, with participation from experienced clinicians and others in related fields. The final recommendations are based on the data available at the time of the production of the document and may be updated with pertinent scientific developments at a later time. The following guidelines are intended for adults and not for pediatric patients.