Public Release: 

Colonoscopy with normal results doesn't reassure IBS patients

University of California - Los Angeles

A UCLA/VA study found that irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) patients under age 50 who undergo a colonoscopy with normal results aren't reassured about their condition or seem to have an improved quality life due to the procedure ruling out a more serious condition.

BACKGROUND: Previous studies have shown that 10 percent of all colonoscopies in the U.S. are performed for evaluation of IBS symptoms. Irritable bowel syndrome affects 15 percent of the population and is a chronic disorder characterized by recurrent abdominal pain and altered bowel habits.

IMPACT:The study results suggest that the role of colonoscopy for irritable bowel syndrome patients may be limited. Authors note that definitive guidelines to diagnose IBS don't include colonoscopy and previous studies have shown a limited diagnostic value of colonoscopy with IBS for patients under age 50. Many doctors believed however, that a normal result may reassure the patient, which may not be the case according to this new UCLA study. Authors say the next step is a clinical trial to confirm study findings.

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AUTHORS: Dr. Brennan M.R. Spiegel, director, UCLA/VA Center for Outcomes Research and Education (CORE) and assistant professor of medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, is available for interviews.

JOURNAL: The research will appear in the December issue of the journal Gastrointestinal Endoscopy. A PDF of the full study is available.

FUNDING: The study authors are supported with funding by a VA HSR&D Research Career Development Award and the National Institutes of Health.

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