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1.  Summary of guidelines for infection prevention and control for flexible gastrointestinal endoscopy 
BACKGROUND:
High-quality processes to ensure infection prevention and control in the delivery of safe endoscopy services are essential. In 2010, the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology (CAG) developed a Canadian guideline for the reprocessing of flexible gastrointestinal endoscopy equipment.
METHODS:
The CAG Endoscopy Committee carefully reviewed the 2010 guidelines and prepared an executive summary.
RESULTS:
Key elements relevant to infection prevention and control for flexible gastrointestinal endoscopy were highlighted for each of the recommendations included in the 2010 document. The 2010 guidelines consist of seven sections, including administrative recommendations, as well as recommendations for endoscopy and endoscopy decontamination equipment, reprocessing endoscopes and accessories, endoscopy unit design, quality management, outbreak investigation and management, and classic and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease.
DISCUSSION:
The recommendations for infection prevention and control for flexible gastrointestinal endoscopy are intended for all individuals with responsibility for endoscopes in all settings where endoscopy is performed.
PMCID: PMC3684370  PMID: 23781518
Endoscopy; Gastrointestinal; Guideline; Infection; Prevention
2.  The 2012 SAGE wait times program: Survey of Access to GastroEnterology in Canada 
BACKGROUND:
Periodically surveying wait times for specialist health services in Canada captures current data and enables comparisons with previous surveys to identify changes over time.
METHODS:
During one week in April 2012, Canadian gastroenterologists were asked to complete a questionnaire (online or by fax) recording demographics, reason for referral, and dates of referral and specialist visits for at least 10 consecutive new patients (five consultations and five procedures) who had not been seen previously for the same indication. Wait times were determined for 18 indications and compared with those from similar surveys conducted in 2008 and 2005.
RESULTS:
Data regarding adult patients were provided by 173 gastroenterologists for 1374 consultations, 540 procedures and 293 same-day consultations and procedures. Nationally, the median wait times were 92 days (95% CI 85 days to 100 days) from referral to consultation, 55 days (95% CI 50 days to 61 days) from consultation to procedure and 155 days (95% CI 142 days to 175 days) (total) from referral to procedure. Overall, wait times were longer in 2012 than in 2005 (P<0.05); the wait time to same-day consultation and procedure was shorter in 2012 than in 2008 (78 days versus 101 days; P<0.05), but continued to be longer than in 2005 (P<0.05). The total wait time remained longest for screening colonoscopy, increasing from 201 days in 2008 to 279 days in 2012 (P<0.05).
DISCUSSION:
Wait times for gastroenterology services continue to exceed recommended targets, remain unchanged since 2008 and exceed wait times reported in 2005.
PMCID: PMC3731118  PMID: 23472243
Access; Audit; Canada; Endoscopy; Gastroenterology; Wait time
3.  Patient-identified quality indicators for colonoscopy services 
BACKGROUND:
Current quality improvement tools for endoscopy services, such as the Global Rating Scale (GRS), emphasize the need for patient-centred care. However, there are no studies that have investigated patient expectations and/or perceptions of quality indicators in endoscopy services.
OBJECTIVES:
To identify quality indicators for colonoscopy services from the patient perspective; to rate indicators of importance; to determine factors that influence indicator ratings; and to compare the identified indicators with those of the GRS.
METHODS:
A two-phase mixed methods study was undertaken in Montreal (Quebec), Calgary (Alberta) and Hamilton (Ontario) among patients ≥18 years of age who spoke and read English or French. In phase 1, focus group participants identified quality indicators that were then used to construct a survey questionnaire. In phase 2, survey questionnaires, which were completed immediately after colonoscopy, prompted respondents to rate the 20 focus group-derived indicators according to their level of importance (low, medium, high) and to list up to nine additional items. Multiple logistic regression analysis was used to determine the factors that influenced focus group-derived indicator ratings. Patient-identified indicators were compared with those used in the GRS to identify novel indicators.
RESULTS:
Three quality indicator themes were identified by 66 participants in 12 focus groups: communication, comfort and service environment. Of the 828 surveys distributed, 402 (48.6%) were returned and 65% of focus group-derived indicators were rated highly important by at least 55% of survey respondents. Indicator ratings differed according to age, sex, site and perceived colorectal cancer risk. Of the 29 patient-identified indicators, 17 (58.6%) were novel.
CONCLUSIONS:
Patients identified 17 novel quality indicators, suggesting that patients and health professionals differ in their perspectives with respect to quality in colonoscopy services.
PMCID: PMC3545623  PMID: 23378980
Colorectal cancer screening; Indicators; Quality
4.  Report on the Expert Forum on Using Information Technology to Facilitate Uptake and Impact of Colorectal Cancer Screening Guidelines 
The present report summarizes the proceedings of the pan-Canadian Expert Forum on Using Information Technology to Facilitate Uptake and Impact of Colorectal Cancer Screening Guidelines, which was held in Montreal, Quebec, November 18 to 19, 2011. The meeting assembled a multidisciplinary group of family physicians, gastroenterologists, nurses, patients, foundation representatives, screening program administrators and researchers to discuss the development of a mechanism or strategy that would permit the collection of comparable data by all colorectal cancer (CRC) screening programs, which would not only support the needs of each program but also provide a national perspective. The overarching theme of the meeting was ‘designing a national approach to computerized electronic data collection and dissemination for CRC screening that would improve knowledge transfer across the continuum of preventive health care’. The forum encouraged presentations on clinical, research and technical topics. The meeting fostered valuable cross-disciplinary communication and delivered the message that it is essential to develop a national health informatics approach for CRC screening data collection and dissemination to support provincial CRC screening programs.
PMCID: PMC3551566  PMID: 23248792
Colorectal cancer; Information technology; National registry; Report; Screening
5.  A survey of the practice of after-hours and emergency endoscopy in Canada 
OBJECTIVE:
To determine staffing and practice patterns for after-hours endoscopy service in Canada
METHODS:
A link to a web-based survey was sent by e-mail to all clinical members of the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology in February 2011. A priori, it was planned to compare variations in practice among gastroenterologists (GIs) performing endoscopy in different regions of Canada, between pediatric and adult GIs, and between university and community hospitals.
RESULTS:
Of 422 potential respondents, 168 (40%) responded. Of the 139 adult GIs, 61% performed after-hours endoscopy in the endoscopy suite where daytime procedures were performed, 62% had a trained endoscopy nurse available for all procedures, 38% had access to propofol sedation, 12% reprocessed the endoscopes themselves or with the help of a resident, 4% had out-of-hospital patients come directly to their endoscopy suite and 53% were highly satisfied. The adult endoscopists practising at community hospitals were more likely to have an anesthetist attend the procedure. Regional differences were noted, with more involvement of anesthetists (13%) and availability of propofol (50%) in Ontario, more frequent reprocessing of endoscopes in the central reprocessing units in British Columbia (78%) and almost universal availability of a trained endoscopy nurse (96%) with concomitant higher endoscopist satisfaction (84% highly satisfied) in Alberta.
CONCLUSIONS:
More than one-third of surveyed endoscopists across the country do not have a trained endoscopy nurse to assist in after-hours endoscopy – the time period when urgent patients often present and typically require therapeutic endoscopic interventions. There are significant regional differences in the practice of after-hours endoscopy in Canada.
PMCID: PMC3551559  PMID: 23248785
Emergency care; Endoscopy; Staffing; Standards
6.  Evaluation and management of skeletal health in celiac disease: Position statement 
OBJECTIVE:
To review the evaluation and management of skeletal health in patients with celiac disease (CD), and to make recommendations on screening, diagnosis, treatment and follow-up of low bone mineral density (BMD) in CD patients.
METHODS:
A multidisciplinary team developed clinically relevant questions for review. An electronic search of the literature was conducted using the MEDLINE and EMBASE databases from 1996 to 2010. All original studies, reviews and guidelines, both pediatric and adult, were included. A document summarizing the results of the review and proposed recommendations was prepared and underwent multiple revisions until consensus was reached.
RESULTS:
At diagnosis, approximately one-third of adult CD patients have osteoporosis, one-third have osteopenia and one-third have normal BMD. Children with CD have low bone mass at diagnosis. Adult and pediatric CD patients are at increased risk of fractures.
DISCUSSION:
For adults, serum calcium, albumin, 25(OH) vitamin D3, parathyroid hormone and 24 h urine calcium testing should be performed at diagnosis; patients with ‘classic’ CD and those at risk for osteoporosis should undergo a dual x-ray absorptiometry scan. An abnormal baseline dual x-ray absorptiometry scan should be repeated one to two years after initiation of a gluten-free diet (GFD). For children, BMD should be assessed one year after diagnosis if GFD adherence is not strict. A GFD is the most important treatment for bone loss. Supplemental antiresorptives may be justified in those who remain at high fracture risk (eg, postmenopausal women, older men) after implementation of a GFD.
CONCLUSION:
Current evidence does not support the screening of all CD patients for low BMD at diagnosis. Follow-up BMD assessment should be performed one to two years after initiation of a GFD.
PMCID: PMC3495700  PMID: 23166906
Bone; Celiac disease; Osteoporosis
7.  Safety of esophagogastroduodenoscopy within 30 days of myocardial infarction: A retrospective cohort study from a Canadian tertiary centre 
Patients who experience gastrointestinal bleeding after myocardial infarction (MI) often have comorbidities that could place them at increased risk of complications if evaluative endoscopy were to be performed. Although esophagogastroduodenoscopy is considered to be generally safe in high-risk individuals, some post-MI patients may be more susceptible to a variety of cardiopulmonary complications. This cohort study examined cardiopulmonary safety in post-MI patients and evaluated specific predictors of complications of post-MI endoscopy.
BACKGROUND:
Patients who experience myocardial infarction (MI) are at risk of gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding complications. Endoscopic evaluation may lead to cardiopulmonary complications. Guidelines and studies regarding the safety of endoscopy in this population are limited.
OBJECTIVE:
To evaluate the safety of endoscopy in a retrospective cohort of post-MI patients at a Canadian tertiary centre.
METHODS:
Using hospital diagnostic/procedure codes, the charts of patients meeting the inclusion criteria of having ST elevation MI or non-ST elevation MI, and GI bleeding detected at endoscopy were reviewed. The information retrieved included demographics, medical history, medications, endoscopy details and cardiopulmonary/GI events.
RESULTS:
A total of 121 patients experienced an MI and underwent endoscopy within 30 days. However, only 44 met the inclusion criteria and were reviewed. The mean age of the patients was 75 years, and 55% were female. The mean hemoglobin level was 86 g/L, and 38 of 44 patients required a transfusion. Comorbidities included hypertension (82%), diabetes (46%), heart failure (55%), stroke (21%), lung disease (27%), previous MI (46%), cardiac bypass surgery (30%), history of GI bleed (25%), history of ulcer (18%) and ejection fraction <50% (48%). The median number of days to endoscopy after MI was three. Complications included seven patients with acute coronary syndrome, one with arrhythmia, one with respiratory failure, one with aspiration pneumonia and two with perforation. Age, hemoglobin level or timing of endoscopy did not significantly predict a complication.
CONCLUSIONS:
Patients with GI bleeding after MI often have comorbidities and are on antiplatelet agents. Endoscopy is a valuable tool in the diagnosis and management of bleeding complications, but must be weighed against the potential risk of other complications, which in the present study occurred in more than 25% of procedures.
PMCID: PMC3299238  PMID: 22408766
Acute myocardial infarction; Complication; Gastrointestinal endoscopy; Safety
8.  Indicators of safety compromise in gastrointestinal endoscopy 
The growth in the use of endoscopy to diagnose and treat many gastointestinal disorders, and its central role in cancer screening programs, has led to a significant increase in the number of procedures performed. This growth, however, has also led to many variations in, among others, the provision of services, the choice of sedative medications and the training of providers. The recognition of the significance of quality in endoscopy has prompted several countries, including Canada, to initiate efforts to adopt nationwide quality improvement programs. The Canadian Association of Gastroenterology formed a committee to review endoscopy and quality with the aim of stimulating improvement. This article focuses specifically on patient safety indicators that were developed at a consensus conference aimed at generating a broad range of recommendations for selected endoscopic procedures, which if adopted, could lead to significant changes in how endoscopy services are provided.
INTRODUCTION:
The importance of quality indicators has become increasingly recognized in gastrointestinal endoscopy. Patient safety requires the identification and monitoring of occurrences associated with harm or the potential for harm. The identification of relevant indicators of safety compromise is, therefore, a critical element that is key to the effective implementation of endoscopy quality improvement programs.
OBJECTIVE:
To identify key indicators of safety compromise in gastrointestinal endoscopy.
METHODS:
The Canadian Association of Gastroenterology Safety and Quality Indicators in Endoscopy Consensus Group was formed to address issues of quality in endoscopy. A subcommittee was formed to identify key safety indicators. A systematic literature review was undertaken, and articles pertinent to safety in endoscopy were identified and reviewed. All complications and measures used to document safety were recorded. From this, a preliminary list of 16 indicators was compiled and presented to the 35-person consensus group during a three-day meeting. A revised list of 20 items was subsequently put to the consensus group for vote for inclusion on the final list of safety indicators. Items were retained only if the consensus group highly agreed on their importance.
RESULTS:
A total of 19 indicators of safety compromise were retained and grouped into the three following categories: medication-related – the need for CPR, use of reversal agents, hypoxia, hypotension, hypertension, sedation doses in patients older than 70 years of age, allergic reactions and laryngospasm/bronchospasm; procedure-related early – perforation, immediate postpolypectomy bleeding, need for hospital admission or transfer to emergency department from the gastroenterology unit, instrument impaction, severe persistent abdominal pain requiring evaluation proven to not be perforation; and procedure-related delayed – death within 30 days of procedure, 14-day unplanned hospitalization, 14-day unplanned contact with a health provider, gastrointestinal bleeding within 14 days of procedure, infection or symptomatic metabolic complications.
CONCLUSIONS:
The 19 indicators of safety compromise in endoscopy, identified by a rigorous, evidence-based consensus process, provide clear outcomes to be recorded by all facilities as part of their continuing quality improvement programs.
PMCID: PMC3275408  PMID: 22312605
Digestive system; Endoscopy; Health care; Quality assurance; Surgical complications; Safety
9.  Canadian Association of Gastroenterology consensus guidelines on safety and quality indicators in endoscopy 
Several organizations worldwide have developed procedure-based guidelines and/or position statements regarding various aspects of quality and safety indicators, and credentialing for endoscopy. Although important, they do not specifically address patient needs or provide a framework for their adoption in the context of endoscopy services. The consensus guidelines reported in this article, however, aimed to identify processes and indicators relevant to the provision of high-quality endoscopy services that will support ongoing quality improvement across many jurisdictions, specifically in the areas of ethics, facility standards and policies, quality assurance, training and education, reporting standards and patient perceptions.
BACKGROUND:
Increasing use of gastrointestinal endoscopy, particularly for colorectal cancer screening, and increasing emphasis on health care quality, highlight the need for clearly defined, evidence-based processes to support quality improvement in endoscopy.
OBJECTIVE:
To identify processes and indicators of quality and safety relevant to high-quality endoscopy service delivery.
METHODS:
A multidisciplinary group of 35 voting participants developed recommendation statements and performance indicators. Systematic literature searches generated 50 initial statements that were revised iteratively following a modified Delphi approach using a web-based evaluation and voting tool. Statement development and evidence evaluation followed the AGREE (Appraisal of Guidelines, REsearch and Evaluation) and GRADE (Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluation) guidelines. At the consensus conference, participants voted anonymously on all statements using a 6-point scale. Subsequent web-based voting evaluated recommendations for specific, individual quality indicators, safety indicators and mandatory endoscopy reporting fields. Consensus was defined a priori as agreement by 80% of participants.
RESULTS:
Consensus was reached on 23 recommendation statements addressing the following: ethics (statement 1: agreement 100%), facility standards and policies (statements 2 to 9: 90% to 100%), quality assurance (statements 10 to 13: 94% to 100%), training, education, competency and privileges (statements 14 to 19: 97% to 100%), endoscopy reporting standards (statements 20 and 21: 97% to 100%) and patient perceptions (statements 22 and 23: 100%). Additionally, 18 quality indicators (agreement 83% to 100%), 20 safety indicators (agreement 77% to 100%) and 23 recommended endoscopy-reporting elements (agreement 91% to 100%) were identified.
DISCUSSION:
The consensus process identified a clear need for high-quality clinical and outcomes research to support quality improvement in the delivery of endoscopy services.
CONCLUSIONS:
The guidelines support quality improvement in endoscopy by providing explicit recommendations on systematic monitoring, assessment and modification of endoscopy service delivery to yield benefits for all patients affected by the practice of gastrointestinal endoscopy.
PMCID: PMC3275402  PMID: 22308578
Digestive system; Endoscopy; Guideline; Health care; Quality assurance
10.  A literature review of quality in lower gastrointestinal endoscopy from the patient perspective 
Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most frequently diagnosed cancer, and the second leading cause of cancer death among men and women in Canada. Prompted by nationally accepted CRC guidelines, the use of colonoscopy – widely regarded to be the optimal method of CRC screening – has increased dramatically in recent years. However, when evaluating colonoscopy performance and the delivery of high-quality care, it is important to also consider factors relevant to the patients who require colonoscopy services. Understanding the patient perspective on what comprises quality in colonoscopy/endoscopy is essential to tailoring improvements in the standards of practice and quality of care. Accordingly, this study systematically reviewed the literature pertaining to aspects of colonoscopy and endoscopy that may be considered to be important to patients.
BACKGROUND:
Given the limited state of health care resources, increased demand for colorectal cancer (CRC) screening raises concerns about the quality of endoscopy services. Little is known about quality in colonoscopy and endoscopy from the patient perspective.
OBJECTIVE:
To systematically review the literature on quality that is relevant to patients who require colonoscopy or endoscopy services.
METHODS:
A systematic PubMed search was performed on articles that were published between January 2000 and February 2011. Keywords included “colonoscopy” or “sigmoidoscopy” or “endoscopy” AND “quality”; “colonoscopy” or “sigmoidoscopy” or “endoscopy” AND “patient satisfaction” or “willingness to return”. The included articles were qualitative and quantitative English language studies regarding aspects of colonoscopy and/or endoscopy services that were evaluated by patients in which data were collected within one year of the colonoscopy/endoscopy procedure.
RESULTS:
In total, 28 quantitative studies were identified, of which eight (28.6%) met the inclusion criteria (four cross-sectional, three prospective cohort and one single-blinded controlled study). Aspects of quality included comfort, management of pain and anxiety, endoscopy unit staff manner, skills and specialty, procedure and results discussion with the doctor, physical environment, wait times for the appointment and procedure, and discharge. Qualitative studies eliciting the patient perspective on what constituted quality in colonoscopy/endoscopy were not found.
CONCLUSIONS:
Factors related to comfort, staff, communication and the service environment were evaluated from the patient perspective using closed-ended questions that were designed by clinicians and researchers. Future research using qualitative methodology to elicit the patient perspective on quality in colonoscopy and/or endoscopy services is needed.
PMCID: PMC3266160  PMID: 22175059
Colonoscopy; Endoscopy; Patient perspective; Quality; Review
11.  Testing for gluten-related disorders in clinical practice: The role of serology in managing the spectrum of gluten sensitivity 
Immunoglobulin A tissue transglutaminase is the single most efficient serological test for the diagnosis of celiac disease. It is well known that immunoglobulin A tissue transglutaminase levels correlate with the degree of intestinal damage, and that values can fluctuate in patients over time. Serological testing can be used to identify symptomatic individuals that need a confirmatory biopsy, to screen at-risk populations or to monitor diet compliance in patients previously diagnosed with celiac disease. Thus, interpretation of serological testing requires consideration of the full clinical scenario. Antigliadin tests are no longer recommended for the diagnosis of classical celiac disease. However, our understanding of the pathogenesis and spectrum of gluten sensitivity has improved, and gluten-sensitive irritable bowel syndrome patients are increasingly being recognized. Studies are needed to determine the clinical utility of antigliadin serology in the diagnosis of gluten sensitivity.
PMCID: PMC3088693  PMID: 21523259
Antigliadin antibodies; Antitissue transglutaminase; Celiac disease; Diagnosis; Gluten intolerance; Serology
12.  Point-of-care, peer-comparator colonoscopy practice audit: The Canadian Association of Gastroenterology Quality Program – Endoscopy 
BACKGROUND
Point-of-care practice audits allow documentation of procedural outcomes to support quality improvement in endoscopic practice.
OBJECTIVE
To evaluate a colonoscopists’ practice audit tool that provides point-of-care data collection and peer-comparator feedback.
METHODS
A prospective, observational colonoscopy practice audit was conducted in academic and community endoscopy units for unselected patients undergoing colonoscopy. Anonymized colonoscopist, patient and practice data were collected using touchscreen smart-phones with automated data upload for data analysis and review by participants. The main outcome measures were the following colonoscopy quality indicators: colonoscope insertion and withdrawal times, bowel preparation quality, sedation, immediate complications and polypectomy, and biopsy rates.
RESULTS
Over a span of 16 months, 62 endoscopists reported on 1279 colonoscopy procedures. The mean cecal intubation rate was 94.9% (10th centile 84.2%). The mean withdrawal time was 8.8 min and, for nonpolypectomy colonoscopies, 41.9% of colonoscopists reported a mean withdrawal time of less than 6 min. Polypectomy was performed in 37% of colonoscopies. Independent predictors of polypectomy included the following: endoscopy unit type, patient age, interval since previous colonoscopy, bowel preparation quality, stable inflammatory bowel disease, previous colon polyps and withdrawal time. Withdrawal times of less than 6 min were associated with lower polyp removal rates (mean difference −11.3% [95% CI −2.8% to −19.9%]; P=0.01).
DISCUSSION
Cecal intubation rates exceeded 90% and polypectomy rates exceeded 30%, but withdrawal times were frequently shorter than recommended. There are marked practice variations consistent with previous observations.
CONCLUSION
Real-time, point-of-care practice audits with prompt, confidential access to outcome data provide a basis for targeted educational programs to improve quality in colonoscopy practice.
PMCID: PMC3027329  PMID: 21258663
Colonoscopy; Health care; Practice audit; Quality assurance; Quality indicators
13.  A one-year economic evaluation of six alternative strategies for the management of uninvestigated upper gastrointestinal symptoms in Canadian primary care 
BACKGROUND:
The cost-effectiveness of initial strategies in managing Canadian patients with uninvestigated upper gastrointestinal symptoms remains controversial.
OBJECTIVE:
To assess the cost-effectiveness of six management approaches to uninvestigated upper gastrointestinal symptoms in the Canadian setting.
METHODS:
The present study analyzed data from four randomized trials assessing homogeneous and complementary populations of Canadian patients with uninvestigated upper gastrointestinal symptoms with comparable outcomes. Symptom-free months, quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) and direct costs in Canadian dollars of two management approaches based on the Canadian Dyspepsia Working Group (CanDys) Clinical Management Tool, and four additional strategies (two empirical antisecretory agents, and two prompt endoscopy) were examined and compared. Prevalence data, probabilities, utilities and costs were included in a Markov model, while sensitivity analysis used Monte Carlo simulations. Incremental cost-effectiveness ratios and cost-effectiveness acceptability curves were determined.
RESULTS:
Empirical omeprazole cost $226 per QALY ($49 per symptom-free month) per patient. CanDys omeprazole and endoscopy approaches were more effective than empirical omeprazole, but more costly. Alternatives using H2-receptor antagonists were less effective than those using a proton pump inhibitor. No significant differences were found for most incremental cost-effectiveness ratios. As willingness to pay (WTP) thresholds rose from $226 to $24,000 per QALY, empirical antisecretory approaches were less likely to be the most cost-effective choice, with CanDys omeprazole progressively becoming a more likely option. For WTP values ranging from $24,000 to $70,000 per QALY, the most clinically relevant range, CanDys omeprazole was the most cost-effective strategy (32% to 46% of the time), with prompt endoscopy-proton pump inhibitor favoured at higher WTP values.
CONCLUSIONS:
Although no strategy was the indisputable cost-effective option, CanDys omeprazole may be the strategy of choice over a clinically relevant range of WTP assumptions in the initial management of Canadian patients with uninvestigated dyspepsia.
PMCID: PMC2947002  PMID: 20711528
Antisecretory therapy; Cost-effectiveness; Dyspepsia; Economic modelling; Endoscopy; Helicobacter pylori
15.  Low prevalence of Helicobacter pylori infection in Canadian children: A cross-sectional analysis 
BACKGROUND:
The incidence and prevalence rates of childhood Helicobacter pylori infection vary greatly by nation, with infection rates of 8.9% to 72.8% reported in developed and developing countries, respectively. To date, few studies have assessed the prevalence of H pylori in Canadian children, with studies limited to Aboriginal communities and single tertiary care centres from Ontario and Quebec.
OBJECTIVES:
To determine the prevalence of H pylori in consecutive children referred to three Canadian tertiary care academic centres for upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy due to upper GI symptoms, and to determine the sensitivity and specificity of the carbon-13-labelled urea breath test, the rapid urease test and the H pylori stool monoclonal antigen test.
RESULTS:
Two hundred four patients were recruited. The prevalence of H pylori was 7.1%. Of the H pylori-positive patients, 41.7% were male, with a mean age of 10.3 years. Ethnic minorities accounted for 42% of the H pylori-positive patients. Consistent with previous observations, the sensitivity and specificity of the carbon-13-labelled urea breath test were 1.0 and 0.98, respectively. The sensitivity and specificity of the rapid urease test were 1.0 and 0.99, respectively. Stool samples were collected from 34 patients from one centre, with a sensitivity and specificity of 1.0 and 0.68, respectively. No defining symptoms of H pylori infection were evident and no peptic ulcer disease was demonstrated.
CONCLUSION:
H pylori infection rates in Canadian children with upper GI symptoms are low, and are lower than those reported for other developed countries. Further studies are required in Canada to determine the prevalence in the general population and specifically in the populations at risk.
PMCID: PMC2660803  PMID: 18478134
Helicobacter pylori; Pediatrics; Prevalence; UBT
17.  Access to specialist gastroenterology care in Canada: Comparison of wait times and consensus targets 
BACKGROUND:
Monitoring wait times and defining targets for care have been advocated to improve health care delivery related to cancer, heart, diagnostic imaging, joint replacements and sight restoration. There are few data on access to care for digestive diseases, although they pose a greater economic burden than cancer or heart disease in Canada. The present study compared wait times for specialist gastroenterology care with recent, evidence-based, consensus-defined benchmark wait times for a range of digestive diseases.
METHODS:
Total wait times from primary care referral to investigation were measured for seven digestive disease indications by using the Practice Audit in Gastroenterology program, and were benchmarked against consensus recommendations.
RESULTS:
Total wait times for 1903 patients who were undergoing investigation exceeded targets for those with probable cancer (median 26 days [25th to 75th percentiles eight to 56 days] versus target of two weeks); probable inflammatory bowel disease (101 days [35 to 209 days] versus two weeks); documented iron deficiency anemia (71 days [19 to 142 days] versus two months); positive fecal occult blood test (73 days [36 to 148 days] versus two months); dyspepsia with alarm symptoms (60 days [23 to 140 days] versus two months); refractory dyspepsia without alarm symptoms (126 days [42 to 225 days] versus two months); and chronic constipation and diarrhea (141 days [68 to 264 days] versus two months). A minority of patients were seen within target times: probable cancer (33% [95% CI 20% to 47%]); probable inflammatory bowel disease (12% [95% CI 1% to 23%]); iron deficiency anemia (46% [95% CI 37% to 55%]); positive occult blood test (41% [95% CI 28% to 54%]); dyspepsia with alarm symptoms (51% [95% CI 41% to 60%]); refractory dyspepsia without alarm symptoms (33% [95% CI 19% to 47%]); and chronic constipation and diarrhea (21% [95% CI 14% to 29%]).
DISCUSSION:
Total wait times for the seven indications exceeded the consensus targets; 51% to 88% of patients were not seen within the target wait time. Multiple interventions, including adoption of evidence-based management guidelines and provision of economic and human resources, are needed to ensure appropriate access to digestive health care in Canada. Outcomes can be evaluated by the ‘point-of-care’, practice audit methodology used for the present study.
PMCID: PMC2659137  PMID: 18299735
Access; Benchmark; Digestive disease; Health care; Recommendation; Target; Wait time
18.  Access to specialist gastroenterology care in Canada: The Practice Audit in Gastroenterology (PAGE) Wait Times Program 
BACKGROUND:
Canadian wait time data are available for the treatment of cancer and heart disease, as well as for joint replacement, cataract surgery and diagnostic imaging procedures. Wait times for gastroenterology consultation and procedures have not been studied, although digestive diseases pose a greater economic burden in Canada than cancer or heart disease.
METHODS:
Specialist physicians completed the practice audit if they provided digestive health care, accepted new patients and recorded referral dates. For patients seen for consultation or investigation over a one-week period, preprogrammed personal digital assistants were used to collect data including the main reason for referral, initial referral and consultation dates, procedure dates (if performed), personal and family history, and patient symptoms, signs and test results. Patient triaging, appropriateness of the referral and timeliness of care were noted.
RESULTS:
Over 10 months, 199 physicians recorded details of 5559 referrals, including 1903 visits for procedures. The distribution of total wait times (from referral to procedure) nationally was highly skewed at 91/203 days (median/75th percentile), with substantial interprovincial variation: British Columbia, 66/185 days; Alberta, 134/284 days; Ontario, 110/208 days; Quebec, 71/149 days; New Brunswick, 104/234 days; and Nova Scotia, 42/84 days. The percentage of physicians by province offering average-risk screening colonoscopy varied from 29% to 100%.
DISCUSSION:
Access to specialist gastroenterology care in Canada is limited by long wait times, which exceed clinically reasonable waits for specialist treatment. Although exhibiting some methodological limitations, this large practice audit sampling offers broadly generalized results, as well as a means to identify barriers to health care delivery and evaluate strategies to address these barriers, with the goals of expediting appropriate care for patients with digestive health disorders and ameliorating the personal and societal burdens imposed by digestive diseases.
PMCID: PMC2659136  PMID: 18299734
Access; Digestive diseases; Health care; Practice audit; Wait time
22.  The effect of sham feeding on neurocardiac regulation in healthy human volunteers 
BACKGROUND:
Distension and electrical stimuli in the esophagus alter heart rate variability (HRV) consistent with activation of vagal afferent and efferent pathways. Sham feeding stimulates gastric acid secretion by means of vagal efferent pathways. It is not known, however, whether activation of vagal efferent pathways is organ- or stimulus-specific.
OBJECTIVE:
To test the hypothesis that sham feeding increases the high frequency (HF) component of HRV, indicating increased neurocardiac vagal activity in association with the known, vagally mediated, increase in gastric acid secretion.
METHODS:
Continuous electrocardiography recordings were obtained in 12 healthy, semirecumbent subjects during consecutive 45 min baseline, 20 min sham feeding (standard hamburger meal) and 45 min recovery periods. The R-R intervals and beat-to-beat heart rate signal were determined from digitized electrocardiography recordings; power spectra were computed from the heart rate signal to determine sympathetic (low frequency [LF]) and vagal (HF) components of HRV.
RESULTS:
Heart rate increased during sham feeding (median 70.8 beats/min, 95% CI 66.0 to 77.6; P<0.001), compared with baseline (63.6, 95% CI 60.8 to 70.0) and returned to baseline levels within 45 min. Sham feeding increased the LF to HF area ratio (median: 1.55, 95% C.I 1.28 to 1.77; P<0.021, compared with baseline (1.29, 95% CI 1.05 to 1.46); this increase in LF to HF area ratio was associated with a decrease in the HF component of HRV.
CONCLUSIONS:
Sham feeding produces a reversible increase in heart rate that is attributable to a decrease in neurocardiac parasympathetic activity despite its known ability to increase vagally mediated gastric acid secretion. These findings suggest that concurrent changes in cardiac and gastric function are modulated independently by vagal efferent fibres and that vagally mediated changes in organ function are stimulus- and organ-specific.
PMCID: PMC2658586  PMID: 18026575
Autonomic nervous system; Heart rate variability; Sham feeding; Vagus nerve
23.  Improvement of lumbar bone mass after infliximab therapy in Crohn’s disease patients 
BACKGROUND:
Patients with Crohn’s disease (CD) have a high risk of developing osteoporosis, but the mechanisms underlying bone mass loss are unclear. Elevated proinflammatory cytokines, such as tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNFα), have been implicated in the pathogenesis of bone resorption.
AIM:
To assess whether suppression of TNFα with infliximab treatment has a beneficial effect on lumbar bone mass.
METHODS:
Adult CD patients who had received infliximab treatment, and who underwent lumbar densitometric evaluation before and during treatment, were selected. Adult CD patients who had never received infliximab treatment were selected as controls. Information regarding age, sex, weight, duration of CD, use of glucocorticoids and bisphosphonates, and signs of disease activity between both densitometric measurements were collected.
RESULTS:
Data from 45 patients were analyzed. The control group (n=30, mean [± SD] 26.7±9 years of age) had a significantly higher increase in body weight between both evaluations (6.26%±8%) than the infliximab group (n=15, 30.6±13 years), which had an increase of 0.3%±7.4%. There was a strong correlation between the final weight and lumbar bone mineral content (BMC) in both groups. The infliximab group had a significant increase in lumbar bone area (4.15%±6.6%), BMC (12.8%±13.6%) and bone mineral density (8.13%±7.7%) between both evaluations (interval 22.6±11 months) compared with the control group. The increase in BMC in patients who had received infliximab treatment was significant when compared with control patients who had received glucocorticoids (n=8) or had evidence of disease activity (n=13).
CONCLUSION:
Infliximab therapy improved lumbar bone mass independent of nutritional status. This finding suggests that TNFα plays a role in bone loss in CD.
PMCID: PMC2658130  PMID: 17948133
Bone mass; Crohn’s disease; Infliximab; Osteopenia; Osteoporosis

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