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What are the possible complications from a colonoscopy?

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Quick Answer

Complications from a colonoscopy include bleeding from biopsy sites, having a tear or hole in the colon, and side effects from the sedative medications, according to UpToDate. Generally, a colonoscopy is a safe procedure, and complications are rare.

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A colonoscopy is a procedure where a colonoscope is inserted through the anus and advanced throughout the colon, states UpToDate. It is performed to look for causes of rectal bleeding. It is also performed due to changes in bowel habits and for a family history of colon cancer. Before a colonoscopy is performed, the entire colon needs to be cleared. This is done using strong laxatives and taking only clear fluids the day before the procedure. Sedative medication is normally given for the procedure through an intravenous line. The procedure takes about 30 minutes to one hour. After the procedure, it takes about one hour to recover from the sedatives.

After a colonoscopy, the patient can expect to feel bloated because air is pumped into the colon during the procedure. Severe abdominal pain and having a firm, bloated abdomen after a colonoscopy may be signs of complications, according to UpTpDate. Other signs of complications include fever, vomiting and bleeding from the rectum. Although a colonoscopy is the best test to look at the colon, even experienced doctors can miss an abnormality during the procedure.

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