The role of oral simethicone on the adenoma detection rate and other quality indicators of screening colonoscopy: a randomized, controlled, observer-blinded clinical trial

Published:March 26, 2019DOI:

      Background and Aims

      Combining simethicone (SIM) with a colon preparation agent has been shown to improve mucosal visibility during screening colonoscopy, but its effect on the adenoma detection rate (ADR) remains unclear. SIM is commonly used through the endoscope to eliminate bubbles during endoscopy. However, this practice recently has been associated with endoscope-transmitted infections. Our aims were to determine the role of SIM added to a polyethylene glycol preparation on the ADR, procedure times, colon preparation, and intraprocedural use of SIM.


      This was a randomized, controlled, observer-blinded, clinical trial of patients undergoing screening colonoscopy. Patients with a high risk of colorectal cancer were excluded. Patients were randomly assigned to 2 different preparations: polyethylene glycol plus SIM or polyethylene glycol. Two endoscopists blinded to patient preparation regimens scored its quality by using the Boston Bowel Preparation scale (BBPS) and the bubble scale. Interobserver agreement was calculated. The polyp detection rate, ADR, intraprocedural use of SIM, cecal intubation time, and withdrawal time were recorded. For study purposes, cecal intubation time and withdrawal time were combined to determine the effective procedure time.


      No significant difference between the polyethylene glycol plus SIM and polyethylene glycol arms was seen regarding the ADR (33.3% vs 38.8%; P = .881) and effective procedure time (759.3 ± 253.1 seconds vs 800.2 ± 459.6 seconds; P = .373), respectively. Intraprocedural use of SIM as well as the bubble scale score were significantly lower in the polyethylene glycol plus SIM arm (1.6% vs 48.9%; P ≤ .05) and (0.1 vs 2.1; P ≤ .05), respectively. Conversely, no difference was found in the BBPS scores. The interobserver agreement for both scores was strong (bubble scale score kappa = .537; P < .05; BBPS score kappa = .184; P <.05).


      Adding SIM to a polyethylene glycol preparation did not improve the ADR or effective procedure time. Nevertheless, it resulted in lower bubble scale scores, and more importantly, in less intraprocedural use of SIM. This simple and inexpensive intervention may have the potential to reduce the risk of endoscope-transmitted infections. (Clinical trial registration number: NCT03119168.)


      ADR (adenoma detection rate), BPPS (Boston Bowel Preparation Scale), CRC (colorectal cancer), SIM (simethicone)
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