Original Article

Open Access: Inconsistencies in Colonic Tattooing Practice: Differences in Reported and Actual Practices at a Tertiary Medical Center

Authors: Joshua P. Spaete, MD, Jiayin Zheng, PhD, Shein-Chung Chow, PhD, Rebecca A. Burbridge, MD, Katherine S. Garman, MD


Objectives: Accurate localization of a colonic lesion is crucial to successful resection. Although colonic tattooing is a widely accepted technique to mark lesions for future identification surgery or repeat colonoscopy, no consensus guidelines exist. The objective of this study was to determine whether the current tattooing practice at a tertiary medical center differs from recommendations in the literature and self-reported provider practice.

Methods: The study consisted of an observational retrospective chart review of patients who received colonic tattoos, as well as a provider survey of reported tattooing practices at a tertiary academic medical center. A total of 747 patients older than 18 years of age who underwent colonoscopy with tattoo were included. Forty-four gastroenterologists performing endoscopy were surveyed on tattooing techniques.

Results: In the majority of cases, neither the number of tattoos, location of the tattoo nor the distance from the lesion was specified within the report. Following the index procedure, a tattoo was detected in 75% of surgical resections and 73% of endoscopies. At the time of surgery, however, the tattoo and/or the lesion was detected approximately 94% of the time. Twenty-five endoscopists (56.8%) completed the survey. Differences were seen the between the chart review and reported practice. Most providers report placing ≥2 marks (87.2%); however, chart review revealed that only 56.2 % were tattooed with ≥2 marks.

Conclusions: Variation exists between the reported tattooing practice and actual practice. Despite this, most tattoos are identified at the time of surgery or repeat endoscopy. Further research is needed to determine whether a standardized approach to tattooing and reporting could improve localization at repeat endoscopy.
Posted in: Gastroenterology44 Colonic And Anorectal Disease5

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Fig. 1. Type of lesion tattooed as identified during chart review. Frequency of lesion type is indicated by percentage.

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Fig. 2. Location of lesion tattooed as identified during chart review. Frequency of lesion location is indicated by percentage.

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Table 1. Number of tattoos placed as identified during chart review compared with self-reported tattoo placement if endoscopic or surgical follow-up is anticipated

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Table 2. Type, mean, median, and range of follow-up for patients who underwent colonic tattooing

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Table 3. Number of adverse events identified in patients who underwent colonic tattooing

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