Research Article

Sigmoidoscopy/proctoscopy service with open access to general practitioners.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1985; 290 doi: (Published 09 March 1985) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1985;290:759
  1. I P Donald,
  2. J S FitzGerald Frazer,
  3. S P Wilkinson


    Many hospitals now offer barium enema examinations to general practitioners on an open access basis, so bypassing the traditional sequence of first carrying out a sigmoidoscopy. An open access sigmoidoscopy/proctoscopy service was therefore opened with requests for a barium enema being denied unless preceded by sigmoidoscopy. During the first three and a half years 1458 patients referred direct from their general practitioners were examined using a rigid sigmoidoscope. Patients were also examined with a proctoscope if thought appropriate. After the first year of the service a subsequent examination with a fibreoptic sigmoidoscope was also carried out if the presenting symptom was bleeding for which no cause could be found with the rigid instruments. A total of 516 abnormalities were found to account for symptoms in 506 patients giving a diagnostic rate of 35%. The most common lesion was piles (307 cases). Other relatively common disorders included inflammatory bowel disease (107 cases), benign tumours (44), and malignant tumours (38). Of 41 patients subsequently undergoing fibreoptic sigmoidoscopy a cause for the bleeding was found in 32, the most common being a malignant tumour (16). Most general practitioners in the district used the service and a questionnaire survey indicated that most found it very helpful. Requests from general practitioners for a barium enema fell substantially over the period.