After colon cancer screening, large numbers of persons discovered with colon polyps may receive post-polypectomy surveillance with multiple colonoscopy examinations over time. Decisions about surveillance interval are based in part on polyp size, histology, and number.
To learn physicians’ recommendations for post-polypectomy surveillance from physicians’ office charts.
Among 322 physicians performing colonoscopy in 126 practices in N. Carolina, offices of 152 physicians in 55 practices were visited to extract chart data, for each physician, on 125 consecutive persons having colonoscopy in 2003. Subjects included persons with first-time colonoscopy and no positive family history or other indication beyond colonoscopy findings that might affect postpolypectomy surveillance recommendations. Data were extracted about demographics, reason for colonoscopy, family history, symptoms, bowel prep, extent of examination, and features of each polyp including location, size, histology. Recommendations for post-polypectomy surveillance were noted.
Among 10,089 first-time colonoscopy examinations, hyperplastic polyps were found in 4.5% of subjects, in whom follow-up by 4–6 years was recommended in 24%, sooner than recommended in guidelines. Of the 6.6% of persons with only small adenomas, 35% were recommended to return in 1–3 years (sooner than recommended in some guidelines) and 77% by 6 years. Surveillance interval tended to be shorter if colon prep was less than “excellent.” Prep quality was not reported for 32% of examinations.
Surveillance intervals after polypectomy of low-risk polyps may be more aggressive than guidelines recommend. The quality of post-polypectomy surveillance might be improved by increased attention to guidelines, bowel prep, and reporting.