Background Modifying patient position during colonoscopy has been proposed as a simple and inexpensive technique to increase luminal distention and improve navigation through the large bowel. The left lateral (LL) decubitus starting position is commonly used during colonoscopy. However, reports indicate that other starting positions may offer additional benefit. We aimed to determine if the right lateral (RL) starting position compared to the standard LL starting position could improve outcomes in colonoscopy. Methods We searched PubMed, Medline, and EMBASE through June 2020 to identify studies comparing RL and LL starting positions during colonoscopy. The primary outcomes included mean cecal insertion time and cecal intubation rate, and adverse events were assessed by pooling data using a random-effects model expressed in terms of odds ratio (OR), mean difference, and 95% confidence interval (CI). Results We identified 5 randomized controlled trials, including 809 participants, that compared LL vs. RL colonoscopy. The pooled OR for cecal intubation rate was 1.3 (95%CI 0.8-2.3; P=0.3). The mean difference in mean cecal insertion time was 0.08 (95%CI-0.09 to 0.26; P=0.4). Heterogeneity between studies was low (I2=0%). No complications were reported in either arm of the study. Pain scores assessed using a visual analog scale were comparable among both arms of the study. Conclusion The RL starting position for colonoscopy was comparable to the LL and offered no additional benefit in terms of cecal intubation time, intubation rate, or patient discomfort.
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