Objectives: Lower threshold and widening indications for paediatric gastrointestinal endoscopy have resulted in a significant increase in the numbers of endoscopic procedures performed in infants. Despite this, knowledge of gastrointestinal mucosal findings in this age group is limited and data on the clinical usefulness of endoscopy are lacking.
Methods: All of the children younger than 1 year referred to a single tertiary paediatric gastroenterology unit during the period June 1987 to August 2007 who underwent gastrointestinal endoscopy were identified and the clinical indications and histological outcomes were reviewed.
Results: A total of 933 gastroesophageal duodenoscopies and 439 colonoscopies were performed in 1024 cases in a total of 823 infants. In order of frequency, clinical indications were diarrhoea (51%), failure to thrive (41.2%), symptoms of reflux (27.1%), and rectal bleeding (8.5%). Mucosal biopsies were insufficient for assessment in only 2.4% of cases. Mucosal histology was normal in 33.8%, whereas histological abnormalities were identified in 63.8%. Specific histological diagnoses included microvillous inclusion disease, autoimmune enteropathy, graft-versus-host disease post–bone marrow transplantation, tufting enteropathy, and disaccharidase deficiency. There was only 1 colonic perforation complicating endoscopy in a total of 889 cases for which relevant information was available (0.1%).
Conclusions: In two-thirds of cases, histological abnormalities were detected that influenced management following endoscopic examination and mucosal biopsy in infants. Endoscopy with biopsies is a greatly informative test with low failure and complication rates in the first year of life.