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Geriatr Gerontol Int. 2012 Apr;12(2):298-303. doi: 10.1111/j.1447-0594.2011.00769.x. Epub 2011 Nov 2.

Yearly diagnostic yield of colonoscopy in patients age 80 years or older, with a special interest in colorectal cancer.

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Department of Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology, Zaans Medisch Centrum, Zaandam, The Netherlands.



A high diagnostic yield of colonoscopy has been reported in elderly patients, but there is no data on the yearly yield. Our aim was to detect the yearly yield of colonoscopy in elderly patients.


All consecutive endoscopies in the years 1992-2009 were included. Important endoscopic diagnoses were defined as colorectal cancer (CRC), polyps, diverticuli and inflammation.


In total, 19 569 endoscopies were performed, of which 1706 (8.7%) were in patients age 80 years or older. The number of women was significantly higher (P < 0.001). The percentage of patients who were 80 years or older was higher than in the general population and remained stable during the study period, though there has been a proportional increase of elderly people in the general population. Inconclusive procedures were present in 106 (6.2%) elderly patients compared with 277 (1.6%) patients under 80 years of age (P < 0.001). There were no significant changes in the consecutive years. A procedure revealing no endoscopic diagnosis was observed less often in patients who were 80 years or older (P < 0.001). CRC was diagnosed in 221 (19.6%) older patients. This figure remained more or less constant each year. Polyps were seen in 448 (8.8%) patients 80 years of age or older. The percentage of patients with diverticuli and inflammation was constant. The number of patients 80 years or older with CRC and polyps rose at a lower rate than the number of older people in the general population.


The yield of colonoscopy in patients 80 years or older was high and constant over the years. The number of tumors rose less than expected compared to the increase of elderly in the general population.

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