Endoscopy is a very safe procedure. However it carries a very small risk of complications. Rare complications include:
- Bleeding. Your risk of bleeding complications after endoscopy is increased if the procedure involves removing a piece of tissue for testing (biopsy) or treating a digestive system problem. In rare cases, such bleeding may require a blood transfusion.
- Infection. Most endoscopies consist of an examination and biopsy, and risk of infection is low. The risk of infection increases when additional procedures are performed as part of your endoscopy. Most infections are minor and can be treated with antibiotics. Your doctor may give you preventive antibiotics before your procedure if you are at higher risk of infection.
- Tearing of the gastrointestinal tract. A tear in your esophagus or another part of your upper digestive tract may require hospitalization, and sometimes surgery to repair it. The risk of this complication is very low — it occurs in an estimated 3 to 5 of every 10,000 diagnostic upper endoscopies.
You can reduce your risk of complications by carefully following your doctor's instructions for preparing for endoscopy, such as fasting and stopping certain medications.
Signs and symptoms that could indicate a complication
Signs and symptoms to watch for after your endoscopy include:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Black or very dark colored stool
- Difficulty swallowing
- Severe or persistent abdominal pain
Call your doctor immediately or go to an emergency room if you experience any of these signs or symptoms.
Aug. 29, 2012
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- Goldman L, et al. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/191371208-2/0/1492/0.html#. Accessed July 6, 2012.
- Understanding upper endoscopy. American Gastroenterological Association. http://www.asge.org/patients/patients.aspx?id=378. Accessed July 6, 2012.
- Upper GI endoscopy. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/upperendoscopy/. Accessed July 6, 2012.
- Picco MP (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, Fla. July 9, 2012.