A new study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology suggests that sleep-deprived physicians who perform screening colonoscopies may demonstrate a lower adenoma detection rate in their patients. Adenomas are the polyps gastroenterologists remove during a colonoscopy to prevent colon cancer.
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, included average-risk patients who underwent colonoscopies July 1st, 2010 through March 31st, 2012.
The researchers examined the results of colonoscopies performed by gastroenterologists who were on call the night prior and those who performed on-call emergent procedures the previous night.
They concluded that despite longer withdrawal times, being on call the night prior and performing an emergent procedure lead to a 24% decrease in polyp detection rates. This is a significant percentage because if polyps go undetected even in colonoscopies, there is a much higher likelihood that they will become cancerous.
The lead authors of the study think there is a lesson to be learned here.
"It is imperative for screening physicians to be aware of the influence of sleep deprivation on procedural outcomes and to consider altering their practice accordingly," the researchers concluded.
One of the lead researchers, Dr. Mark Reichelderfer, was recently featured in our Physician Spotlight Q&A. See what he had to say about colon cancer screening here.
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Photo via Flickr user motoyen