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Renewed Attention for Overtube-Assisted Colonoscopy to Prevent Incomplete Endoscopic Examination of the Colon

Moreels, Tom G. M.D., Ph.D.; Macken, Elisabeth J. M.D.; Pelckmans, Paul A. M.D., Ph.D.

doi: 10.1097/DCR.0b013e3182962636
Current Status

BACKGROUND: Colonoscopy is the standard examination to detect mucosal pathology in the colon. However, failure to complete colonoscopy may reach more than 10% in population-based endoscopy practices. The reasons for incomplete conventional colonoscopy are diverse and result in missed diagnosis of colonic polyps and carcinoma.

OBJECTIVE: Recent endoscopic developments have shown that the use of specialized overtubes may help to reach the cecum in the case of a difficult colonoscopy, even with less discomfort. Several types of overtubes are currently available, whereas other types are being developed and clinically evaluated. The current review highlights the development of overtubes for colonoscopy and the available clinical data on overtube-assisted colonoscopy in the case of incomplete conventional colonoscopy.

DATA SOURCES: Data were derived from a PubMed search through November 2012.

STUDY SELECTION: Available clinical literature data on recent developments in overtube-assisted colonoscopy were studied.

INTERVENTION: A descriptive comparison was made of currently available endoscopy systems used for overtube-assisted colonoscopy.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The primary outcomes measured were the feasibility and safety of different endoscopy systems to perform overtube-assisted colonoscopy.

RESULTS: Several overtube-assisted colonoscopy systems have recently been developed to complete colonoscopy in the case of difficult conventional colonoscopy. Literature data show excellent feasibility to reach the cecum with very low complication rates and good patient tolerance for the different overtube systems.

LIMITATIONS: The majority of available studies are uncontrolled case series describing 7 to 110 patients undergoing overtube-assisted colonoscopy with only 1 direct comparison between 2 overtube systems.

CONCLUSIONS: Overtube-assisted colonoscopy has been shown to be useful in performing colonoscopy by increasing the cecal intubation rate and patient tolerance and by decreasing the need for sedation. There is no standardized superior overtube system at this moment.

Antwerp University Hospital, Department of Gastroenterology & Hepatology, Antwerp, Belgium

Funding/Support: Dr Moreels received a research grant for overtube-assisted colonoscopy from MSD-Merck – Belgium.

Disclosures: None reported.

Correspondence: Tom G. Moreels, M.D., Ph.D., Antwerp University Hospital, Department of Gastroenterology & Hepatology, Wilrijkstraat 10, B-2650 Antwerp, Belgium. E-mail:

© 2013 The American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons