As with any medical procedure, there are risks. An IV is started and intravenous medications are used. There are rare reports of serious reactions to the medications. Fortunately we have never had a single instance of this problem.
Another risk is the danger of causing a hole, or perforation, in the intestine. The colon scope is a flexible tube with a camera on the tip. We manipulate this tube around the natural bends of the intestine. But the colon can have very sharp turns, and advancing the tube can put pressure on the wall sufficient to damage it. The medical literature states that on average, one patient out of every thousand will suffer a perforation. This is a national average. At the South Carolina Medical Endoscopy Center, however, we are very proud of our record of having had only one perforation per five thousand cases. This is an excellent and not easily achievable track record, and attributable to our meticulous monitoring and level of care.
Another factor in the consideration of risks is the use of the air we use to inflate the colon, like blowing up a balloon, so we can get a better look at what is in there.
Another risk that is seldom discussed is the risk of simply missing a polyp, or even worse, not seeing a cancer that's already there. Some studies have shown that as many as 20 percent of polyps can be overlooked; he smaller the polyp, the higher the likelihood of missing it. Also, if the patient's preparation is not good and the colon is not completely clear and easily viewed, small polyps can be difficult