The purpose of this study was to conduct a population-based study on the provision of large bowel endoscopic services in Ontario.
Data from the following databases were analyzed: the Ontario Health Insurance Plan, the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences Physicians Database, and Statistics Canada. The flexible sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy rates per 10,000 persons (50 to 74 years of age) by region between April 1, 2001, and March 31, 2002, were calculated, as well as the numbers and types of physicians who performed each procedure.
In 2001/02, a total of 172,108 colonoscopies and 43,400 flexible sigmoidoscopies were performed in Ontario for all age groups. The colonoscopy rate was approximately five times that of flexible sigmoidoscopy; rates varied from 463.1 colonoscopies per 10,000 people in the north to 286.8 colonoscopies per 10,000 people in the east. Gastroenterologists in all regions tended to perform more procedures per physician, but because of the large number of general surgeons, the total number of procedures performed by each group was almost the same.
Population-based rates of colonoscopies and flexible sigmoidoscopies are low in Ontario, as are the procedure volumes of approximately one-quarter of physicians.