PAs, gastroenterologists have similar colonoscopy performance, study says

Physician assistants can perform colonoscopies as accurately as gastroenterologists in average-risk patients, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants, reported on by Clinical Advisor


Researchers studied routine screening colonoscopy results for 597 patients from July 2015 to July 2016. Seven gastroenterologists, five physician assistants and 32 GI fellows from St. Louis University and Washington University in St. Louis completed the screenings. The gastroenterologists had a median of 15.5 years experience to the PAs' median of 10.8 years of experience.

Here's what they found:

1. Cecal intubation was successful in 98.5 percent of patients. Approximately 44.6 percent of patients had adenomas, and only one screening colonoscopy revealed colorectal cancer.

2. There was no difference in mean intubation times in groups with less than five years or between six to 15 years of experience.

3. PAs with more than 15 years of experience had shorter mean intubation times than GIs with a similar level of experience.

4. PAs had shorter colonoscope withdrawal times than GIs as well.

Researchers concluded PAs can play a role to increase CRC screening, especially in areas lacking resources.

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