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Saudi J Gastroenterol. 2018 Nov-Dec;24(6):311-316. doi: 10.4103/sjg.SJG_118_18.

Water exchange versus air insufflation for colonoscopy: A meta-analysis.

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Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, The First Affiliated Hospital of Wenzhou Medical University, Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province, China.



To compare water exchange (WE) method with conventional air insufflation (AI) method for colonoscopy, evaluating the technical quality, screening efficacy, and patients' acceptance.

Materials and Methods:

Electronic databases were systematically searched for randomized controlled trials comparing WE colonoscopy with AI colonoscopy. The pooled data of procedure-associated and patient-related outcomes were assessed, using the weighted mean difference (WMD) with 95% confidence interval (CI) for continuous variables and relative risk (RR) with 95% CI for dichotomous variables, respectively.


A total of 13 studies involving 7056 patients were included. The cecum intubation rate was similar between WE and AI methods (RR = 1.01, 95% CI = 0.99-1.02,P = 0.37); however, a significantly longer cecum intubation time was shown in WE group (WMD = 1.56, 95% CI = 0.75-2.37,P = 0.002). Compared with AI, WE was associated with a higher risk of adenoma detection rate (ADR) (RR = 1.28, 95% CI = 1.18-1.38,P < 0.00001) and polyp detection rate (PDR) (RR = 1.30, 95% CI = 1.21-1.39,P < 0.00001). Patients in WE group experienced significantly less maximum pain score (WMD = -1.99, 95% CI = -2.68 to -1.30,P < 0.00001) and less requested on-demand sedation (RR = 0.58, 95% CI = 0.44-0.77,P = 0.0002). Likewise, they also experienced less abdominal compression (RR = 0.62, 95% CI = 0.51-0.74,P < 0.00001) and reposition (RR = 0.74, 95% CI = 0.63-0.86,P = 0.0001). Moreover, patients' willingness to repeat colonoscopy was significantly greater for WE (RR = 1.14, 95% CI = 1.07-1.21,P < 0.0001).


This meta-analysis confirmed that WE method could significantly increase ADR/PDR and improve patients' acceptance of colonoscopy, while reducing the degree of pain and minimize the need for on-demand sedation and adjunct maneuvers, despite requiring more cecal intubation time.


Air insufflation; colonoscopy; meta-analysis; water exchange


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