Endoscopy: What are the Possible Risks and Side Effects

The general term given to procedures that use an endoscope, a small and tube-like instrument, is called endoscopy. The endoscope is inserted into the patient’s body through a body opening or a tiny incision. The endoscope has a lighted camera that will transmit images of the insides of the body to a video screen.

Endoscopic therapy is used by doctors to treat and diagnose various conditions. Some of the common conditions diagnosed through endoscopy include endometriosis, appendicitis, peptic ulcers, and colon polyps. Endoscopy cost will vary from one country to another.

For example, endoscopy cost in Singapore can range from $500 to $11,000. In the United States, it can range from $1,250 to $4,800. Endoscopic procedures are considered minimally invasive as it involves inserting the endoscope through a small body opening (i.e., anus or the mouth) or a small incision in the body.

Potential Complications, Side Effects, and Risks of Endoscopy

Just like most surgeries, endoscopy may have possible complications and risks. Complications are usually rare. However, some of them can be life-threatening. These complications can also occur during recovery or during the procedure.

General Risks

Possible complications of endoscopy can include:

  • Tear or perforation of the local tissue
  • Infection
  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Adverse reaction (to medications or sedation)

Complications of Certain Endoscopy Procedures

Some of the potential complications associated with some specific endoscopic procedures include:

  • Upper Gastrointestinal Endoscopy – bleeding, sore throat, difficulty swallowing, puncture of the gastrointestinal tract
  • Laparoscopy – organ or blood vessel damage (might require surgical repair)
  • Bronchoscopy – hoarseness, collapsed lung (pneumothorax), sore throat, fever, and pneumonia
  • Ureteroscopy and cystoscopy – urinary tract infection and bloody urine
  • Sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy – rectal discomfort, vomiting, bloating, nausea, dehydration, bleeding, and puncture of the large intestine

How to Minimize Risks of Complications

You can minimize the risk of complications by adhering strictly to the treatment plan and taking the following tips to heart:

  • Informing your care team regarding any allergies you have
  • Strictly following any lifestyle, dietary, and activity recommendations and restrictions before the procedure and during recovery
  • Taking medications as directed by your doctor
  • Informing your doctor or any alarming symptoms like severe pain, fever, or bleeding

What to Expect After the Procedure

Your experience after the procedure will depend on several factors including your health history and the procedure done. It is possible to experience pain and discomfort after certain types of endoscopic procedures. Fortunately, it often responds well to modern pain control medications and methods.

If the pain is severe or if it worsens, it can be a sign of a possible complication. Get in touch with your doctor right away in similar scenarios. It is also normal to feel some drowsiness the first 24 hours after the procedure because of the general anesthesia, sedative, or the pain medications.

It is likely that you will also experience some numbness that will last for only a short period after you are given local anesthesia. If you feel numbness for an extended period, make sure to inform your doctor. After the procedure, you will need to stay in the recovery room for further monitoring.

You will be monitored if you are breathing effectively, alert, and if you have stable vital signs. If a tube was placed in the windpipe during the procedure, patients are likely to experience soreness in their throat. Fortunately, it is usually temporary. However, it is recommended that you inform your doctor if you feel or experience any discomfort after a prolonged time.

Since you can be discharged after the procedure, it might be tempting for you to drive yourself home. However, you are advised not to drive for at least 24 hours as the effects of the sedation may not have fully worn off. Instead, it is recommended that you have someone who can drive you home or someone who can accompany you home. For extensive procedures like laparoscopy, bronchoscopy, and arthroscopy, a hospital stay may be needed.

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