Guidelines for clinical practice are intended to suggest preferable approaches to particular medical problems as established by interpretation and collation of scientifically valid research, derived from extensive review of published literature. When data that will withstand objective scrutiny are not available, a recommendation may be made based on a consensus of experts. Guidelines are intended to apply to the clinical situation for all physicians without regard to specialty. Guidelines are intended to be flexible, not necessarily indicating the only acceptable approach, and should be distinguished from standards of care that are inflexible and rarely violated. Given the wide range of choices in any health-care problem, the physician should select the course best suited to the individual patient and the clinical situation presented. These guidelines are developed under the auspices of the American College of Gastroenterology and its Practice Parameters Committee. Expert opinion is solicited from the outset for the document. The quality of evidence upon which a specific recommendation is based is as follows: Grade A: Homogeneous evidence from multiple well-designed randomized (therapeutic) or cohort (descriptive) controlled trials, each involving a number of participants to be of sufficient statistical power. Grade B: Evidence from at least one large well-designed clinical trial with or without randomization, from cohort or case-control analytic studies, or well-designed meta-analysis. Grade C: Evidence based on clinical experience, descriptive studies, or reports of expert committees. The Committee reviews guidelines in depth, with participation from experienced clinicians and others in related fields. The final recommendations are based on the data available at the time of the production of the document and may be updated with pertinent scientific developments at a later time.
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