Small (<10 mm) and diminutive (<6 mm) polyps harbour high-grade dysplasia or cancer in 0.3-5% of cases. The potential to grow and develop advanced histology is low. Traditional guidelines still recommend the removal of all polyps. Visual characterisation with modern endoscopic technology could enable us to leave diminutive hyperplastic polyps in situ and remove but discard small polyps. In expert hands, high-definition white-light endoscopy and virtual chromoendoscopy can reach an accuracy of more than 90% in distinguishing between hyperplastic and adenomatous pathology. For less experienced endoscopists the values are lower and therefore the concept is not yet fit for routine use. Polyps can be removed completely with snares but not with forceps. The cold snaring technique in particular has proved safe and effective for small polyps. With more experience in the future a ‘cut and discard' strategy for small polyps and a ‘do not resect' strategy for diminutive polyps will save money and time to deal with more advanced lesions.

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