Older adults who are given a colonoscopy by a family doctor, general surgeon or internist are more likely to require a repeat colonoscopy within one year than those who are given the exam by a gastroenterologist, a study has found.
The research, published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology evaluated 328,167 Medicare claims for outpatient colonoscopies performed for colon cancer screening or diagnosis in adults aged 65 years or older.
Among the outpatient colonoscopies, 73% were performed by gastroenterologists, while general surgeons, internists and family physicians performed 13%, 5% and 2% of procedures respectively.
Of the colonoscopies performed by a gastroenterologist, 4.6% were followed by a repeat colonoscopy within a year.
However, 5.6%, 5.3% and 6.4% colonoscopies performed by general surgeons, internists and family physicians respectively were followed by a repeat colonoscopy.
A colonoscopy performed by gastroenterologists was associated with a 1% risk of repeat colonoscopy within a year, but this rises to 18%, 12% and 39% for colonoscopies performed by general surgeons, internists and family physicians respectively.
Dr Cynthia Ko, lead researcher of the study, said that it was possible that non-gastroenterologists have less experience with the procedure, and that this may be one reason for the more frequent repeat exams.
“I think it is useful for patients to ask any physician – gastroenterologist or non-gastroenterologist – how much experience they have with the procedure, and how many they have done,” Ko added.