How safe is an endoscopy?

Doctor's Answers (1)

Dr Quan Wai Leong

"A specialist in Digestive Health and Advanced Endoscopy"

Hi Si Yi,

Endoscopy is minimally invasive. The risk of endoscopy is much lower than most surgery and most, if not all procedures, are carried out under some form of sedation or anaesthesia.

This means that patients would sleep through the entire procedure and therefore not be aware or have no recollection of the procedure upon completion.

The risk of endoscopy varies according to the type of procedure. A straightforward upper digestive endoscopy, for instance, can be completed in 15 minutes and carries very low risk of 1 in 10 thousand while colonoscopy carries a risk of 1 in a thousand.

The possible complications range from mild pain to bleeding and perforation. Based on our experience, serious complications rarely happen with routine upper and lower endoscopy.

Do note that there are more advanced and sophisticated endoscopic procedures which carry a higher risk of serious complications. These procedures are usually carried out by endoscopists who have undergone special training in interventional endoscopy.

Procedures such as ERCP (Endoscopic Retrograde CholangioPancreatography), for example, carry a risk of pancreatitis which can potentially be life threatening. Stent placement within the digestive tract may result in bleeding and perforation if not done optimally.

There are many other endoscopic procedures with their corresponding risks and complications which you should discuss with your endoscopist in detail before agreeing to undergo the procedure.

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