What are the risks and potential complications of an endoscopy?
Any endoscopy procedure involves risks and the possibility of complications that may become serious in some cases. Complications can develop during the procedure or throughout your recovery.
General risks of endoscopy
Risks and potential complications of most endoscopy procedures are uncommon but can include:
- Adverse reaction or problems related to sedation or medications, such as an allergic reaction and problems with breathing
- Perforation or tear of the local tissue
Potential complications of specific endoscopy procedures
Potential complications related to the specific type of endoscopy are:
- Arthroscopy can result in blood clots, severe swelling of the joint, and nerve or blood vessel damage.
- Bronchoscopy can result in sore throat, hoarseness, fever, pneumonia, and pneumothorax (collapsed lung).
- Colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy can result in nausea, vomiting, rectal discomfort, puncture of the large intestine, bleeding, and dehydration due to taking enemas and laxatives before the procedure.
- Cystoscopy and ureteroscopy can result in bloody urine and urinary tract infection.
- Laparoscopy can result in blood vessel or organ damage, which may require further surgical repair.
- Upper gastrointestinal endoscopy can result in puncture of the upper gastrointestinal tract, difficulty swallowing, bleeding, and sore throat.
Reducing your risk of complications
You can reduce the risk of certain complications by:
- Following activity, dietary and lifestyle restrictions and recommendations before your procedure and during your recovery
- Notifying your doctor immediately of any concerns, such as bleeding, fever, or increase in pain
- Taking your medications exactly as directed
How do I prepare for my endoscopy?
If you dread the thought of undergoing an endoscopy procedure, you are not alone. You are a very important member of your own healthcare team. The steps you take before your procedure can improve your comfort level and help your doctor to obtain the best outcome or most accurate test results. You can prepare yourself for an endoscopy by:
- Answering all questions about your medical history and medications you take. This includes prescribed medications, over-the-counter drugs, herbal treatments, and vitamins. It is a good idea to carry a current list of your medical conditions, medications, and allergies at all times.
- Completely following all pre-operative instructions for specific procedures, such as not eating or drinking before a procedure, or taking a laxative or enema as directed
- Taking or stopping medications exactly as directed. For an endoscopy, this may include not taking aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), certain vitamins, diabetes medications, and blood thinners. Your doctor will give you instructions for taking your specific medications and supplements.
Questions to ask your doctor
Preparing for an endoscopy can be stressful. It is common for patients to forget some of their questions during a brief doctor’s office visit. You may also think of other questions after your appointment. You should feel free to contact your doctor about any questions. You should also write down your questions and bring the list to your appointment. Common questions include:
- Why do I need an endoscopy? Are there any other options for diagnosing or treating my condition?
- How long will the procedure take? When will I be able to go home?
- What kind of restrictions will I have after the procedure and when can I expect to return to work and other activities?
- What kind of assistance will I need at home? Will I need a ride home?
- What medication plan should I follow before and after the procedure?
- How will my pain be managed?
- When and how should I contact you? Ask for numbers to call during and after regular hours.
- When will I receive the results of my test?
© Copyright 2012 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. For specific medical advice, diagnoses and treatment, consult your doctor.