Although colonoscopy is generally a safe procedure, in certain cases, some minor complications may arise, including nausea, vomiting, allergic skin reaction, or dehydration. Major complications and risks of colonoscopy are even rarer, but could potentially include problems such as damage to the colon or rectum, bleeding, or serious infection.
Colonoscopy Risks: An Overview
All procedures have risks. However, colonoscopy procedures have been done for many years with good results and few complications or problems.
Minor Risks and Complications of Colonoscopy
Minor risks and complications of this procedure include, but are not limited to:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Allergic skin reaction
In most cases, minor problems do not last that long, and your healthcare providers can usually take care of them.
Major Risks and Complications
There are some major problems that can happen during a colonoscopy, although they are rare. Your health may play a role in whether they happen or not. For example, patients with severe heart disease, diabetes, serious gastrointestinal disease, or lung disease have a higher chance of complications occurring than those without these conditions. Your health may also be an important part of how well your body heals if any of these things happen.
Major colonoscopy risks and complications include, but are not limited to:
- Damage to the colon or rectum -- including a perforation, which is a tear in the lining of the rectum or colon
- Allergic reaction to the medication
- Serious infection
- Heart or lung problems, possibly including irregular heart rhythms or lung or heart failure
- Loss of life
- Other rare or improbable events.
It may be that in your doctor's practice, few of these complications have happened -- or have occurred very rarely. However, it is important for you to know and understand the risks of colonoscopy so that you are fully informed before your procedure.