Information about colonoscopy complications, particularly postpolypectomy bleeding, is limited.
Dr Theodore Levin and colleagues from Oakland quantified the magnitude and severity of colonoscopy complications.
The researchers conducted a retrospective cohort study of 16,318 members 40 years of age or older who underwent colonoscopy between 1994 and 2002.
Electronic records were reviewed for serious complications.
The complications included hospital admission within 30 days of colonoscopy for colonic perforation, and diverticulitis.
|Complications occurred in 7 per 1000 colonoscopies with biopsy|
|Annals of Internal Medicine|
The team also reviewed the records for colonic bleeding, postpolypectomy syndrome, or other serious illnesses directly related to colonoscopy.
The research team identified 82 serious complications.
The team found that serious complications occurred in less than 1 per 1000 colonoscopies without biopsy or polypectomy.
The team observed that complications occurred in 7 per 1000 colonoscopies with biopsy or polypectomy.
Perforations occurred in just under 1 per 1000 colonoscopies.
The researchers found that postbiopsy or postpolypectomy bleeding occurred in 5 per 1000 colonoscopies with biopsy.
Biopsy or polypectomy was associated with an increased risk for any serious complication.
The research team noted that 10 deaths occurred within 30 days of the colonoscopy.
The team reported that 99% of colonoscopies were nonscreening examinations.
The rate of complications may be lower in a primary screening sample.
The researchers observed a small number of adverse events limited power to detect risk factors for complications.
Dr Levin's team concludes, “Colonoscopy with biopsy or polypectomy is associated with increased risk for complications.”
“Perforation may also occur during colonoscopies without biopsies.”