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Audit on the use of the barium enema.
  1. K D Vellacott,
  2. J Virjee


    All 1358 referrals for barium enemas at Bristol Royal Infirmary in 1981 were studied. The overall diagnostic yield for colonic or distal ileal pathology was 33% with 75 (5.5%) cancers detected. General practitioner requested enemas constituted 25.8% of the total undertaken and their diagnostic yield was equal to hospital outpatient requested enemas. Medical and surgical diagnostic yields were similar for both inpatient and outpatients though the indications varied. Women predominated by 3:2 in all age groups. In the under 40's the yield was low (19.8%) except for inflammatory bowel disease. When related to symptoms the lowest yield was obtained for the investigation of abdominal pain (25%), particularly in women, except in those admitted as inpatients. The clinicians were wrong in diagnosing abdominal or pelvic masses as being of colonic origin in over 50% of cases. It is suggested that yield could be improved by being more selective in patients under 40, more use being made of suitable faecal occult blood testing, and ultrasonic scanning of abdominal masses before barium enema.

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