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Endoscopy in the Elderly: A Review of the Efficacy and Safety of Colonoscopy, Esophagogastroduodenoscopy, and Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography

Jafri, Syed-Mohammed MD*; Monkemuller, Klaus MD; Lukens, Frank J. MD*

Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology: March 2010 - Volume 44 - Issue 3 - p 161-166
doi: 10.1097/MCG.0b013e3181c64d64
ALIMENTARY TRACT: Clinical Reviews

Gastrointestinal endoscopy including colonoscopy, esophagogastroduodenoscopy, and endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) are safe and efficacious in elderly patients. Screening colonoscopies have little efficacy in patients over 80 years. Colonoscopies performed for bleeding or iron-deficiency anemia have a higher yield in elderly patients. Colonic preparations were well tolerated and colonoscopic success rates are high in elderly patients. However, poor colonic preparation is more likely in these patients. Esophagogastroduodenoscopy is a high-yield procedure with no significant increase in adverse events in patients over 80 years with symptoms including dyspepsia and dysphagia. ERCP in the elderly carries a high degree of success with low complication rates. Elderly patients undergoing ERCP carry similar risks of bleeding and perforation and a lower risk of pancreatitis compared with younger patients. Advanced age should not be regarded as an absolute contraindication to any gastrointestinal endoscopy procedure.

*Division of Gastroenterology, University of Texas at Houston, Houston, TX

Division of Gastroenterology, Otto-von-Guericke University, Magdeburg, Germany

The authors of this article have no conflicts of interest, conflicts of funding support, or financial interests to declare.

Reprints: Frank J. Lukens, MD, University of Texas at Houston, Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology & Nutrition, 6431 Fannin, MSB 4.234, Houston, TX 77030 (e-mail:

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.