What are the common complications of a colonoscopy?

Serious risks of the procedure are rare. They include perforation (a small tear in the intestine that usually occurs in less than 1 in 1,000 patients), bleeding (which can occur as often as two or three in 100 patients, especially if a polyp is removed or if the patient is on a blood thinner) and infection. The anesthesia used for the procedure also carries risks.

Although less severe, abdominal discomfort isn’t uncommon after a colonoscopy, said Dr. Kavel Visrodia, a gastroenterologist at Columbia University Irving Medical Center who studies improving endoscopy safety.

Cramping or bloating after the procedure is usually caused by the carbon dioxide used to inflate the colon and better visualize any polyps. “Typically, this discomfort will subside a few hours after the procedure, as this gas is resorbed or passed out,” Dr. Visrodia said.


Although Barker didn’t specify in his tweet which endoscopic procedure he underwent, most people who say they’ve had an endoscopy tend to refer to an upper endoscopy or an esophagogastroduodenoscopy.

This procedure involves passing a small endoscope through the mouth, down the esophagus, and into the stomach and first part of the small intestine to examine these areas.