INTRODUCTION:Colorectal cancer (CRC) screening programs based on the fecal immunochemical test (FIT) and guaiac-based fecal occult blood (gFOBT) are associated with a substantial reduction in CRC incidence and mortality. We conducted a systematic review and comprehensive meta-analysis to evaluate colonoscopy-related adverse events in individuals with a positive FIT or gFOBT.METHODS:A systematic and detailed search was run in January 2021, with the assistance of a medical librarian for studies reporting on colonoscopy-related adverse events as part of organized CRC screening programs. Meta-analysis was performed using the random-effects model, and the results were expressed for pooled proportions along with relevant 95% confidence intervals (CIs).RESULTS:A total of 771,730 colonoscopies were performed in patients undergoing CRC screening using either gFOBT or FIT across 31 studies. The overall pooled incidence of severe adverse events in the entire patient cohort was 0.42% (CI 0.20-0.64); I2= 38.76%. In patients with abnormal gFOBT, the incidence was 0.2% (CI 0.1-0.3); I2= 24.6%, and in patients with a positive FIT, it was 0.4% (CI 0.2-0.7); I2= 48.89%. The overall pooled incidence of perforation, bleeding, and death was 0.13% (CI 0.09-0.21); I2= 22.84%, 0.3% (CI 0.2-0.4); I2= 35.58%, and 0.01% (CI 0.00-0.01); I2= 33.21%, respectively.DISCUSSION:Our analysis shows that in colonoscopies performed after abnormal stool-based testing, the overall risk of severe adverse events, perforation, bleeding, and death is minimal.
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