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Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology
Volume 26 (2012), Issue 9, Pages 589-592
Original Article

Incomplete Colonoscopy: Maximizing Completion Rates of Gastroenterologists

Mayur Brahmania, Jei Park, Sigrid Svarta, Jessica Tong, Ricky Kwok, and Robert Enns

Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology, St Paul’s Hospital, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Received 1 October 2011; Accepted 20 December 2011

Copyright © 2012 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


BACKGROUND Cecal intubation is one of the goals of a quality colonoscopy; however, many factors increasing the risk of incomplete colonoscopy have been implicated. The implications of missed pathology and the demand on health care resources for return colonoscopies pose a conundrum to many physicians. The optimal course of action after incomplete colonoscopy is unclear.

OBJECTIVES: To assess endoscopic completion rates of previously incomplete colonoscopies, the methods used to complete them and the factors that led to the previous incomplete procedure.

METHODS: All patients who previously underwent incomplete colonoscopy (2005 to 2010) and were referred to St Paul’s Hospital (Vancouver, British Columbia) were evaluated. Colonoscopies were re-attempted by a single endoscopist. Patient charts were reviewed retrospectively.

RESULTS: A total of 90 patients (29 males) with a mean (± SD) age of 58±13.2 years were included in the analysis. Thirty patients (33%) had their initial colonoscopy performed by a gastroenterologist. Indications for initial colonoscopy included surveillance or screening (23%), abdominal pain (15%), gastrointestinal bleeding (29%), change in bowel habits or constitutional symptoms (18%), anemia (7%) and chronic diarrhea (8%). Reasons for incomplete colonoscopy included poor preparation (11%), pain or inadequate sedation (16%), tortuous colon (30%), diverticular disease (6%), obstructing mass (6%) and stricturing disease (10%). Reasons for incomplete procedures in the remaining 21% of patients were not reported by the referring physician. Eighty-seven (97%) colonoscopies were subsequently completed in a single attempt at the institution. Seventy-six (84%) colonoscopies were performed using routine manoeuvres, patient positioning and a variable-stiffness colonoscope (either standard or pediatric). A standard 160 or 180 series Olympus gastroscope (Olympus, Japan) was used in five patients (6%) to navigate through sigmoid diverticular disease; a pediatric colonoscope was used in six patients (7%) for similar reasons. Repeat colonoscopy on the remaining three patients (3%) failed: all three required surgery for strictures (two had obstructing malignant masses and one had a severe benign obstructing sigmoid diverticular stricture).

CONCLUSION: Most patients with previous incomplete colonoscopy can undergo a successful repeat colonoscopy at a tertiary care centre with instruments that are readily available to most gastroenterologists. Other modalities for evaluation of the colon should be deferred until a second attempt is made at an expert centre.