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What are the Potential Endoscopy Risks?

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  • Written By: Debra Durkee
  • Edited By: Daniel Lindley
  • Last Modified Date: 23 August 2016
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An endoscopy is a procedure that allows a medical professional to view the inside of an individual's gastrointestinal tract, from the esophagus through the intestines. Even though it is not a surgical procedure, there are still endoscopy risks, including bleeding and infection in the areas where the camera probes. The body may have a reaction during the procedure that includes an irregular heartbeat and chest pain. As the individual must refrain from eating or drinking for up to eight hours before the procedure, there is also a risk of dehydration.

During the upper endoscopy, a small camera and long tube is inserted into the individual's mouth and then pushed gently through the digestive system. One of the endoscopy risks includes damaging the soft tissues of the esophagus, stomach, or intestines. In rare cases, there have been individuals who have had the camera tear a portion of the gastrointestinal tract. If this occurs, it generally requires surgery to fix. There is also the chance that particles or saliva may enter the individual's windpipe and lungs alongside the camera, resulting in difficulty breathing.

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Even if it doesn't tear them, the camera can still irritate the tissues that it is pushing through. There may be some surface bleeding, which can result in the leaking of blood into the stomach; because of the nature of the gastrointestinal system, even surface wounds may take some time to heal. Associated with these wounds is the risk of infection. Infection can come either from the camera or through damage done by the camera.

Another of the potential endoscopy risks is a physical reaction during the procedure. As the camera is inserted down the throat, the gag reflex of the individual has to be overcome. As with any sedative, the potential exists that the body will have an allergic reaction to the medication.

There is also danger of the body demonstrating other involuntary responses to the procedure. Chest pains and an irregular heartbeat may develop. Even though the individual can still breathe, he or she may feel short of breath.

After the procedure, there are several rare but potential endoscopy risks. There may be continued chest and abdominal pains even after the camera is removed. The individual may have a rough, scratchy feeling in his or her throat and chest, which may result in difficulty or pain when swallowing. Any of these symptoms that develop after the completion of the procedure can indicate a problem in the gastrointestinal tract caused by the camera or the tube during the procedure.

Similar potential endoscopy risks have been associated with lower endoscopy procedures. Bleeding and infection are among the most common, but even these are rare. Complications that develop after the procedure are also extremely rare.

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