Risks

The best medical care available - The Endoscopy Centre.

RISKS OF COLONOSCOPY AND GASTROSCOPY

We aim to provide you with the best quality healthcare in a safe and friendly manner.  However, as with all medical procedures, there is some risk.  Our centre has policies and procedures in place to manage and minimize risks to our patients.  For your information, the possible risks of colonoscopy and gastroscopy are listed below.

Common Problems

Description

Management

Bloating and discomfort There may be some air remaining in the large bowel as a result of the procedure. Walking and moving around helps to pass the trapped air and usually no further treatment is required.
Bruising at injection site Some patients may experience soreness, reddening or bleeding at the injection site. Applying pressure to the area will stop the bleeding.  A pressure bandage and cold packs may be applied to minimize the bruising.  The bruising is not serious and will usually resolve within a week.
Nausea and vomiting Some people experience nausea and/or vomiting as a result of the anaesthetic. Medication can be given for nausea and vomiting and generally relieves symptoms quite quickly.
Dehydration related to fasting / bowel prep. Occasionally patients may experience headaches and poor absorption of normal medications including birth control and anti-convulsant medication.  Changes in the blood salt levels (electrolytes) may occur. We advise taking your medication at least 2 hours before preparation.  Fluids can be administered to you via the vein and medicine given to relieve the headache and nausea.  Additional methods of contraception are suggested until the next menstrual cycle.
Uncommon Problems    
Bleeding Major bleeding from the stomach or bowel can occur in 1:10,000 people following a biopsy, and 1:1000 after the removal of a polyp.  Sometimes bleeding may occur up to 12 days after the procedure. Bleeding usually settles without further treatment. Sometimes another gastroscopy or colonoscopy may be needed to stop the bleeding after polyp removal.  Rarely, you would be transferred to hospital for observation.  Occasionally a blood transfusion or surgery is necessary.
Abdominal pain Burning of the bowel wall following removal of polyps can occur in 1:500 people.  This may cause severe abdominal pain, rapid pulse and fever between 12 hours and 5 days after the procedure. It is not uncommon to experience temporary abdominal discomfort. However, if you have severe pain, or pass a large amount of blood, you should contact us and go to hospital for a check up to ensure that the bowel is not perforated.  It may be necessary to give antibiotics, arrange x-rays, blood tests and observation in hospital.  We may ask for a surgical opinion.
Rare Problems    
Aspiration Some patients may vomit during the procedure and rarely some of the stomach contents can enter the lungs and cause pneumonia. If pneumonia occurs you would be transferred to hospital for observation and given intravenous fluids and antibiotics.  Usually we just need to observe you for a little longer.
Anaphylaxis / drug reactions Some patients may experience an allergic reaction to one or more of the anaesthetic drugs. You may require intravenous drugs to stop the reaction and occasionally a transfer to hospital for observation.
Perforation (puncture or tear of the large intestine, stomach or oesophagus) During colonoscopy the large intestine may be perforated in 1:1000 cases.  The risk is higher if a polyp is removed.  During gastroscopy the risk of perforation of the gullet (oesophagus) is <1% if a dilatation is performed. Fluids and antibiotics may be given via an intravenous drip and the tear may require repair by surgery to the abdomen or chest.
Anaesthetic Risks About 1:10,000 people may experience heart or lung problems such as low oxygen levels, low blood pressure or irregular heart beat.  People with ill health are more at risk. The procedure is immediately stopped if complications occur.  Medication may be given to reverse the effects of sedation. Discuss concerns with your anaesthetist.
Incomplete examination A complete examination of the colon may be limited in some patients (less than 5%) including those with poor bowel preparation, patients with long colons, patients with tight bends in their colon, patients with severe inflammation or other pathology. It is possible that a barium enema or CT scan of the bowel may be recommended to enable a complete examination of the colon.
Damage to teeth All attempts are made to protect teeth, however it is possible for teeth or crowns to be damaged during the procedure.
Missed lesions Due to the nature of the anatomy and preparation of the gut, it is possible to miss small cancers and other disorders in approximately 1:1,000 procedures.

As with any medical procedure, death is a rare complication.

If you have any concerns about the risks, please consult your doctor on the day of your procedure.