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What Does a “Quality Colonoscopy” Mean?

Digitalized Stomach Hovers over GI Doctor’s Hand

Those at average risk for colon cancer probably won’t need a colon cancer screening colonoscopy but once every 10 years. That's why it is important that people receive a quality colonoscopy every time. Meaning, no one should leave their colonoscopy uncertain that their colon is free of precancerous polyps that could develop into colon cancer.

Here are the three components of a quality colonoscopy:

Adenoma Detection Rate (ADR)

According to gastroenterologist Dr. Paul Brown of Louisville Endoscopy Center, “Adenoma Detection Rate is the percentage of time that at least one adenomatous polyp is detected during a physician’s screening colonoscopies. Knowing a physician’s ADR is an important qualifying factor in selecting the specialist with whom you feel most confident performing your colonoscopy.”

The national average Adenoma Detection Rate is 25 percent for men and 15 percent for women. People should keep these numbers in mind as minimal requirements when finding a doctor to perform the colonoscopy.  When interviewing gastroenterologists, you may confidently ask, “What is your ADR?”

Cecal Intubation Rate

Cecal intubation rate refers to how often a physician sees the entire colon. The colonoscope should be advanced all the way to the cecum to allow visualization of the entire colon. A physician’s cecal intubation rate should be greater than 95 percent for screening colonoscopies, so make sure to ask a gastroenterologist, “What is your cecal intubation rate?”

Withdrawal time

The final measure of a quality colonoscopy is withdrawal time. Colonoscopies require time and patience as the gastroenterologist scopes the entire colon from cecum to rectum for adenomas or colon polyps. Withdrawal time refers to how quickly the colonoscope is removed from the colon once the scope reaches the cecum, the farthest point in the colon. The minimum time should be six minutes, so look for a GI specialist with a longer average withdrawal time than six minutes, which is associated with a higher ADR. Ask the gastroenterologist, “What is your average withdrawal time for a colonoscopy?”

Patients must also follow a set of responsibilities in assuring a quality colonoscopy. They must take time to read the colonoscopy prep instructions given from the gastroenterologist and follow those guidelines entirely. To give the doctor the best view of the colon, the bowel must be completely clear of debris and waste. The thorough preparation partnered with the doctor’s expertise will ensure a quality colonoscopy.

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posted on March 27, 2017 in news