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Original research
Rationalising the use of specimen pots following colorectal polypectomy: a small step towards greener endoscopy


Aims In this study, we aim to determine whether combining multiple small colorectal polyps within a single specimen pot can reduce carbon footprint, without an associated deleterious clinical impact.

Methods This was a retrospective observational study of colorectal polyps resected during 2019, within the Imperial College Healthcare Trust. The numbers of pots for polypectomy specimens were calculated and corresponding histology results were extracted. We modelled the potential reduction in carbon footprint if all less than 10 mm polyps were sent together and the number of advanced lesions we would not be able to locate if we adopted this strategy. Carbon footprint was estimated based on previous study using a life-cycle assessment, at 0.28 kgCO2e per pot.

Results A total of 11 781 lower gastrointestinal endoscopies were performed. There were 5125 polyps removed and 4192 pots used, equating to a carbon footprint of 1174 kgCO2e. There were 4563 (89%) polyps measuring 0–10 mm. 6 (0.1%) of these polyps were cancers, while 12 (0.2%) demonstrated high-grade dysplasia. If we combined all small polyps in a single pot, total pot usage could be reduced by one-third (n=2779).

Conclusion A change in practice by placing small polyps collectively in one pot would have resulted in reduction in carbon footprint equivalent to 396 kgCO2e (emissions from 982 miles driven by an average passenger car). The reduction in carbon footprint from judicious use of specimen pots would be amplified with a change in practice on a national level.


Data availability statement

Data are available on reasonable request.

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