Complications are inherent in the performance of colonoscopy. As endoscopy assumes a more therapeutic role in the management of Gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, the potential for complications will likely increase. Knowledge of potential endoscopic complications, their expected frequency, and the risk factors associated with their occurrence may help to minimize the incidence of complications. Endoscopists are expected to carefully select patients for the appropriate intervention, be familiar with the planned procedure and available technology, and be prepared to manage any adverse events that may arise. Once a complication occurs, early recognition and prompt intervention will minimize the morbidity and mortality associated with that complication. Review of complications as part of a continuing quality improvement process may serve to educate endoscopists, help to reduce the risk of future complications, and improve the overall quality of endoscopy.
Note: A discussion of the diagnosis and management of all complications of colonoscopy is beyond the scope of this document, although general principles are reviewed.
Colon and Rectal Surgery
Allied Health Personnel
- To provide information that may assist endoscopists in providing care to patients undergoing colonoscopy and increase knowledge of potential complications
- To update the 2003 American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) guideline on complications of colonoscopy
Patients undergoing a colonoscopy examination
- Endoscopists are expected to:
- Select patients carefully
- Be aware of potential endoscopic complications, their expected frequency, and the risk factors associated with their occurrence
- Be familiar with the planned procedure and available technology
- Be prepared to manage any adverse events
- Early recognition and prompt intervention of complications
- Review of complications to reduce future risk and improve overall quality
- Cardiovascular and pulmonary complications*
- Colonic perforation
- Postpolypectomy electrocoagulation syndrome
- Gas explosion
- Abdominal pain or discomfort
- Complications associated with specific colonoscopic interventions; including tattooing, dilation, stent placement, decompression tube placement, percutaneous endoscopic colostomy, hemostasis and foreign body removal
*Cardiovascular and pulmonary complications related to sedation are reviewed in detail in the 2008 American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy Guideline for Sedation and Anesthesia in GI Endoscopy.
Hand-searches of Published Literature (Primary Sources)
Hand-searches of Published Literature (Secondary Sources)
Searches of Electronic Databases
The Standards of Practice Committee of the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy performed a search of the medical literature by using PubMed (1990-2011). Additional references were obtained from the bibliographies of the identified articles and from recommendations of expert consultants. When limited or no data existed from well-designed prospective trials, emphasis was given to results from large series and reports from recognized experts.
- The committee meets formally twice a year (Spring and Fall) and edit/complete documents by consensus. The time from completion and publication is typically less than 6 weeks and data is updated until completion of the article, based on emerging evidence.
- Position statements are based on a critical review of the available data and expert consensus at the time the documents are drafted.
A formal cost analysis was not performed and published cost analyses were not reviewed.
The type of evidence supporting the recommendations is not specifically stated.
Appropriate review of complications as part of a continuing quality improvement process may serve to educate endoscopists, help to reduce the risk of future complications, and improve the overall quality of endoscopy.
- Position statements are based on a critical review of the available data and expert consensus at the time that the document was drafted. Further controlled clinical studies may be needed to clarify aspects of this document, which may be revised as necessary to account for changes in technology, new data, or other aspects of clinical practice.
- This document is intended to be an educational device to provide information that may assist endoscopists in providing care to patients. This position statement is not a rule and should not be construed as establishing a legal standard of care or as encouraging, advocating, requiring, or discouraging any particular treatment. Clinical decisions in any particular case involve a complex analysis of the patient's condition and available courses of action. Therefore, clinical considerations may lead an endoscopist to take a course of action that varies from this position statement.
An implementation strategy was not provided.
Staff Training/Competency Material
Living with Illness
|ASGE Standards of Practice Committee, Fisher DA, Maple JT, Ben-Menachem T, Cash BD, Decker GA, Early DS, Evans JA, Fanelli RD, Fukami N, Hwang JH, Jain R, Jue TL, Khan KM, Malpas PM, Sharaf RN, Shergill AK, Dominitz JA. Complications of colonoscopy. Gastrointest Endosc. 2011 Oct;74(4):745-52. [119 references] PubMed|
Not applicable: The guideline was not adapted from another source.
2003 (revised 2011 Oct)
American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy - Medical Specialty Society
American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy
Standards of Practice Committee of the American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy
Committee Members: Deborah A. Fisher, MD, MHS, FASGE; John T. Maple, DO; Tamir Ben-Menachem, MD; Brooks D. Cash, MD; G. Anton Decker, MD; Dayna S. Early, MD, FASGE; John A. Evans, MD; Robert D. Fanelli, MD (SAGES Representative); Norio Fukami, MD; Joo Ha Hwang, MD, PhD, FASGE; Rajeev Jain, MD; Terry L. Jue, MD; Khalid M. Khan, MD (NASPGHN Representative); Phyllis M. Malpas, MA, RN, CGRN (SGNA Representative); Ravi N. Sharaf, MD; Amandeep K. Shergill, MD; Jason A. Dominitz, MD, MHS, FASGE (Chair)
D. Fisher is a consultant for Epigenomics. P. Malpas is a consultant for Olympus America. J. Dominitz is a consultant for Epigenomics and Salix Pharmaceuticals. B. Cash is a consultant for Salix Pharmaceuticals, J. Evans is a consultant for Cook Medical. G. Decker is a consultant for Facet Biotechnology. No other financial relationships relevant to this publication were disclosed.
This is the current release of the guideline.
This guideline updates a previous version: Dominitz JA, Eisen GM, Baron TH, et al. Complications of colonoscopy. Gastrointest Endosc 2003;57:441-5.
Electronic copies: Available from the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy Web site .
Print copies: Available from the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, 1520 Kensington Road, Suite 202, Oak Brook, IL 60523
The following is available:
- Complications of colonoscopy. CME course. Available from the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy Web site .
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