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Are there risks with endoscopy?

Endoscopy is a safe and routine procedure. The major risks involve the anesthesia. On rare occasions, patients can have allergic reactions to the medications. The anesthetic risks are generally cardiac and pulmonary, or heart- and lung-related. Examples are irregular heart rates or, very rarely, heart attacks. These complications may occur in patients with a history of heart disease or lung disease. The major risk for the actual endoscopy is bleeding or perforation. A perforation is a tear in the lining of the esophagus or stomach. On rare occasions, this can require a hospital stay, blood transfusion, or surgery to fix the tear. All of these risks or complications are exceedingly rare: less than 1 in 1000 procedures.

One issue patients often ask about is the risk of infection or catching something from the exam. This is very rare because endoscopes are cleaned carefully with sterilizing solutions pumped through the instrument between examinations. Yes, endoscopes are reused many times, but their cleaning is standardized and regulated by federal agencies that license hospitals and freestanding endoscopy units or surgical centers.

Finally, before your endoscopy, the nurse or preferably the doctor will go over the risks and benefits of the examination with you. This is an opportunity to discuss issues and ask questions. You will then sign a form called an informed consent. The informed consent states the risks of the exam, and by signing you are acknowledging that you understand the risks and agree to go ahead with the procedure.

By Mortin - Copyright 2010
Last modification 05/02/2010

Are there risks with endoscopy? References