Objective: A significant percentage of colonoscopies remain incomplete because of a failure to intubate the caecum. By double-balloon endoscopy (DBE), originally developed for deep enteroscopy, an otherwise incomplete examination of the colon might be completed. We evaluated the success rate of caecal intubation, the reasons for its failure and the therapeutic consequences of using DBE after incomplete conventional colonoscopy.
Methods: We report our single-centre experience of using DBE to complete an otherwise incomplete colonoscopy. A total of 114 consecutive patients, 45 male and 69 female, with a mean age of 64.8 years, who had undergone 116 procedures, were evaluated retrospectively by a review of their medical records.
Results: The main causes for failed caecal intubation using a conventional colonoscope were loop formation in 70 patients (61.4%) and an adhesive angulated sigmoid in 33 (28.9%). Caecal intubation by DBE was successful in 101 patients (88.6%). The rate of failure was not associated with the cause of failure of the previous colonoscopy. In 55 patients (48.2%) a relevant new diagnosis was made in the previously inaccessible part of the colon: carcinoma (n=4; 3.5%), one or more adenomas (n=48; 42.1%) and caecal flat hyperplastic polyps (n=4; 3.5%). Endoscopic polypectomy was performed in 51 patients (44.7%); two complications occurred, both being mild postpolypectomy bleedings. In seven patients (6.1%) a subsequent surgical resection was performed.
Conclusion: Colonoscopy by DBE was useful in most patients in whom conventional colonoscopy was incomplete, irrespective of the cause of the failure. In nearly half the patients, a relevant new diagnosis was made with therapeutic consequences.