Risk of Injury from Colonoscopy

James D. Lewis
Last Modified: November 1, 2001

Dear OncoLink "Ask the Experts,"
I am having a colonoscopy, but I am very concerned that I might end up with a hole in my colon. How common is it for an accident to happen?

James D. Lewis, MD, MSCE, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Senior Scholar at the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, and Senior Fellow in the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics at the University of Pennsylvania, responds:

Perforation of the colon from colonoscopy is a rare complication. It is estimated that colonoscopy results in perforation in 0.2% to 0.4% of cases, or 2 to 4 per 1000 procedures. Likewise it is estimated that colonoscopy results in death in 0.006% of cases, or 6 per 100,000 procedures.