Colonoscopy is the preferred tool for colorectal cancer screening and polyp removal but the procedure carries a high financial cost. Minimizing the use of sedation/anesthesia and reducing the challenges associated with colonoscope insertion would significantly reduce this cost. EndoCole proposes to develop a low-cost medical guide device that is inserted before the colonoscope and that enables easy insertion of the colonoscope to reduce the need for sedation and improve the overall efficiency of the procedure. Phase I of this project will be to: 1) design and build a prototype device for feasibiliy testing and 2) to validate that device via animal studies conducted by a practicing gastroenterologist. Phase II of the project will test this device in a human clinical study. If oveall development is successful, EndoCole plans to commercialize a medical device that will allow for more efficient, less painful and less costly colonoscopies.
14 million colonoscopies were performed in the US in 2002 and that number is increasing rapidly, especially with ongoing efforts to control colorectal cancer. We estimate the annual reimbursed cost of all colonoscopies currently exceeds $20 billion. While high, this value appears to be rising rapidly with increasing screening rates and it could reach as high as $60 billion with increasing cancer control and prevention efforts and reduction or elimination of associated patient co-payment fees. Obviously colorectal cancer screening provides significant benefit and should be encouraged but it is worth considering how we can provide effective screening and polyp removal in the most economical manner. A large part of the cost of colonoscopy in the US is ultimately the result of the sedation or anesthesia used to ameliorate the pain and discomfort experienced during insertion of the colonoscope. These results in added overhead costs associated with patient prep and recovery, added staff costs and added costs to the patient related to transportation and lost time from work. If successful, our device would dramatically reduce the need for sedation or anesthesia while reducing the overall procedure time and complexity, saving billions per year in reimbursement costs and improving overall efforts to control colorectal cancer rates.