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Papers And Short Reports

Open access fibresigmoidoscopy: a comparative audit of efficacy

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1988; 296 doi: (Published 16 April 1988) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1988;296:1095
  1. L Kalra,
  2. W R Price,
  3. B J M Jones,
  4. A N Hamlyn


    A total of 541 open access referrals for fibresigmoidoscopy over five years were compared with 495 hospital initiated procedures during the same period. The number of open access fibresigmoidoscopies doubled during the five years but diagnostic yield remained unchanged at about 40% and was similar to that of the hospital initiated procedures. Colorectal carcinoma was seen in 64 open access patients compared with 47 hospital referred patients, the proportion of Dukes's type A lesions being similar (34%) in both groups. Polyps, colitis, and diverticular disease were equally common in open access and hospital referred patients. Fibresigmoidoscopy failed to detect disease in only 12 patients (1·2%) and the procedure was unsatisfactory in only 54. Referral was considered justified in 475 (88%) open access patients, and only 54 (17%) patients with normal appearances at endoscopy required further investigations.

    Diagnostic yields were low (19%; 30/156 cases) in open access patients under 40 and in patients with abdominal pain, constipation, or abdominal pain with constipation (0-17%). Most of these young patients presumably suffer from the irritable bowel syndrome and do not justify fibresigmoidoscopy. In contrast, there was a high diagnostic yield (90-100%) in patients of all ages referred for diarrhoea and rectal bleeding, altered blood from the rectum, and rectal bleeding associated with abdominal pain.

    Open access fibresigmoidoscopy is an effective service that should be freely available to general practitioners.