VA surgeons less effective at identifying colonoscopy abnormalities than gastroenterologists

Surgeons at the Veterans Affairs medical system are less effective at identifying adenomas in routine colonoscopies than gastroenterologists, according to a study conducted by gastroenterologist Andrew Gawron, MD, PhD, and reported on by MedPage Today on May 8. 

Dr. Gawron analyzed almost 670,000 colonoscopies performed at VA hospitals and found that gastroenterologists had an adenoma detection rate of 53 percent, compared to 41 percent for surgeons. 

The gap was irrespective of patient age and sex. Colonoscopy training varies between trained gastroenterologists and surgeons, according to the report. 

Standards recommend surgeons perform 50 colonoscopies and 35 upper gastrointestinal tract endoscopies during residency, while gastroenterology residents are expected to perform 275 colonoscopies. 

Dr. Gawron analyzed about 594,000 procedures performed by gastroenterologists and 74,000 performed by surgeons between October 2018 and September 2022. 

About 20 percent of surgeons had adenoma detection rates below 30 percent, which is far lower than expected. Just 2 percent of gastroenterologists had rates that low. 

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