Colonoscopies • Are they safe?

Do some of research before you decide to have a colonoscopy. Don't limit your research to all the reasons why someone thinks you should. Google the "dangers" or "side effects" of colonoscopies.

Dog with glasses in front of a computer

There is a greater risk to seniors, but 5 people out of 1000 will suffer from a serious side effect even if there is no sign of cancer and they were healthy when they walked into the doctor’s office. Others will have side effects that disrupt the healthy function of their colons.

There is a fecal test (Cologuard) that is nearly as effective and perfectly safe. If the test reveals a problem, then you may need a colonoscopy.  It is approved by Medicare if your doctor asks for it.

See for specific statistics. Some of the possible possible complications of a colonoscopy include:

  • Blood clotting (side effect from anasthesia)
  • Colitis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Dyspepsia
  • Food poisoning (because of the disruption of the gut flora)
  • Increased risks of deferred strokes, heart attacks and pulmonary embolisms
  • Infection
  • Perforated colon (which can cause death)
  • Severe dehydration
  • The destruction of all gut flora
  • Ulceration

That’s the short list.  If you are determined to have a colonoscopy anyway, or if you really do have symptoms that call for one, there are ways to protect yourself before and after the procedure. See the entry on Colonoscopy-Before and After.