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Endoscopy Complications And Risks


Your family doctor may perform sigmoidoscopy in their office, however, all of the other endoscopy procedures are usually performed by gastroenterology specialists (gastroenterologists). Other specialists such as gastrointestinal surgeons can also perform many of these procedures. Though less invasive than traditional methods, such as explorative surgery, the procedure does carry some risks.


  • bleeding of the bowel - usually after a biopsy or removal of a polyp
  • bleeding of your esophagus or stomach walls


  • perforation of your esophagus or stomach walls
  • perforation of the bowel


  • infection and/ or fever in an area where the endoscopy was performed

Respiratory Depression:

  • in people with severe lung diseases or liver cirrhosis
  • due to oversedation in people with chronic lung disease
  • Other:
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Reaction to medication
  • Allergic skin reaction
  • Severe irregular heartbeat
  • Pulmonary aspiration
  • Reaction of the vagus nerve system to the sedatives
  • Local pain
  • Dehydration (due to excess of laxatives and enemas for bowel preparation)
  • Cardiac arrhythmias
  • Explosion of combustible gases in the colon during removal of polyps
  • Pneumonia

Major complications occur in approximately 2 out of 1,000 procedures, with loss of life occurring in 1 out of 10,000. If your doctor performs dilation during the EGD, the complication rate can be higher due to dilation. Dilation is a delicate procedure that stretches a narrowed section of your esophagus, stomach, or small intestine.

If you experience any of the following complications, you should contact your doctor or seek immediate medical help.

  • Unexplained and chronic abdominal or chest pain, even heartburn
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting or reflux
  • Swallowing difficulties or pain on swallowing
  • Bleeding in your esophagus
  • Nausea
  • Indigestion
  • Weight loss
  • Anemia
  • Any long-standing and unexplained changes in bowel habits
  • Diarrhea
  • Black or tarry stools or bleeding through your rectum
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath

This is not a complete list of all possible complications, and is only to be used as a guide to the types of complications that may occur during the procedure. Other health conditions, medicines, and other factors may increase your risk. Remember to discuss all possible complications and signs of complications thoroughly with your doctor prior to having ANY type of procedure, and follow instructions carefully to minimize risks that complications may develope.

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