Colonoscopy: when should one seen medical advice?

By  , Expert Content
Jul 07, 2012

Colonoscopy is a commonly performed medical procedure. It is done to diagnose and treat wide range of conditions and symptoms of colon and rectum. Many patients can have some minor GI symptom after colonoscopy, but serious complications are rare.

Rare serious complications of a colonoscopy include:

  • Haemorrhage: Bleeding can occur from the site of biopsy or from the site where a polyp or other abnormal tissue was removed
  • Perforation: Tear in the colon or rectum wall. Perforation of colon may result from use of excessive forces against the bowel wall or as a direct result of therapeutic procedures. Symptoms which may occur in colon perforation include pain abdomen, nausea, vomiting or fever.
  • Allergic reaction to the sedative: Although it is rare some people may develop allergic reaction to sedative used during the procedure.
  • Bowel infection: Symptoms suggestive of bowel infection include diarrhoea, pain in stomach, bloating sensation, nausea and vomiting.

Consult your doctor if you develop one or more of the following signs and symptoms suggestive of complications after colonoscopy:

  • Severe and persistent abdominal pain
  • Blood in stool, or black or dark coloured stools
  • Signs of infection such as fever (temperature of 380C or 100.4F or above), pain abdomen, nausea and vomiting
  • You feel giddy and lightheaded, have shortness of breath or trouble breathing.

Early diagnosis and treatment of complication can minimize the severity of complication or death because of it. Consult your doctor if you have questions or concerns about colonoscopy, your illness, or follow-up

Who to consult

Some health professionals who can be consulted for any complication of colonoscopy include:

  • Family doctor
  • Physician
  • Nurse practitioner, a nurse who has advanced training
  • Physician assistant (a health professional who practices medicine under a doctor's supervision)
  • Surgeon



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