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GI Endoscopy Complication Rates Higher Than Suspected: Study
Date:10/26/2010

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Oct. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Complications following gastrointestinal endoscopies -- procedures performed to detect ulcers, cancer and other conditions -- may be higher than previously estimated.

The good news is that most of the problems reported were minor, such as abdominal pain, and the rate of serious complications is actually lower than previously suspected, according to a study published in the Oct. 25 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Although the overall risk of complications was two to three times higher than had been reported, the risk of severe complications, such as perforations and bleeding, heart attacks or even death, were lower than previous studies -- about half of that reported in earlier estimates, said study author Dr. Daniel Leffler, director of clinical research at the Celiac Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

Gastrointestinal endoscopic procedures -- in which doctors use a thin, flexible tube with a fiber-optic light and a tiny video camera at the tip to look inside the esophagus, stomach, intestines or colon -- are common in the United States, with some 15 million to 20 million performed each year, the authors stated.

These authors took advantage of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center electronic medical record system to devise their own system to monitor emergency room visits and hospitalizations of patients who had had an endoscopy within the past two weeks.

Previous research indicates that most post-endoscopy-related hospital visits occur within a 14-day time frame.

The system recorded 6,383 endoscopies and 11,632 colonoscopies between March 1 and Nov. 30, 2007. A total of 419 emergency department visits and 266 hospitalizations took place within two weeks following the procedures. Of these, 134 (32 percent) of the emergency room visits were related to complications related to th
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