About Colonoscopy Risks

There are always colonoscopy risks regardless of whether you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, but fortunately they are rare including complications of sedation, colon bleeding from polyp removal and others.

Potential side effects should always be considered when you are consented for your endoscopic procedure.

This should never be underestimated as the potential for complications are always possible. 

This is particularly true with increasing age when the risk is higher.

There are many reasons for this including other illnesses you may have, drugs you take, your sensitivity to medications and the bowel preparation itself.

They can be split into two areas:

Bowel Preparation Risks

Common complications

- Nausea

- Vomiting

- Electrolyte disturbance (salt imbalance) - this is of particular concern if you have  a history of kidney problems

Rare complications

- Collapse with loss of consciousness (syncope)

- perforation (putting a hole in the bowel) particularly in colon polyp removal

- Missed Colon Cancer (5%)

Colonoscopy Risks Picture

Colonoscopy Risks Of Your Procedure

Complications of the procedure are fortunately rare, bit when they do occur they can be serious:

Sedation risks in colonoscopy

- Respiratory arrest (stopping breathing) from the sedation

- Anaphylaxis (allergic reaction) to the drugs given

- Hypotension (low blood pressure)

- drowsiness from oversedation

- Unsteadiness and falls - one of the reasons it's important that you go home accompanied and cannot drive a car for 24 hours.

- Amnesia or forgetting that you have had the test

Procedure risk

- Haemorrhage/Hemorrhage (colon bleeding)

- Perforation (hole in the bowel), particularly if biopsying the cecum (1:2000)

The most common side effect from the test is abdominal pain, usually similar to the pain you get from wind and is caused by the bowel being inflated with air of carbon dioxide.

With excellent training they are reduced, but problems can never be 100% excluded so Its important that the test is only done if indicated.

Before you have the test, your risk will be assessed before going ahead with the investigation.

In the UK, colonoscopists are very well trained and audited to ensure quality and good practice.

This helps to keep complications of the procedure to a minimum, something that every person deserves.

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