Background: Perforation as a complication of colonoscopy is estimated to occur in 0.01% to 0.3% of procedures, but the frequency in ambulatory settings is unknown. This study determined the number of perforations occurring within a network of endoscopic ambulatory surgery centers.
Methods: A total of 116,000 colonoscopies were performed within one network of 45 endoscopic ambulatory surgery centers in the United States during 1999. All identified perforations were reported to the network clinical director and reviewed by a panel of 3 gastroenterologists.
Results: There were 37 (0.03%) perforations; 27 in women and 10 in men. Median patient age was 75 years (range 39-87 years); 18 patients (49%) had diverticular disease and 20 (54%) had a history of pelvic or colonic surgery. Twenty-four (65%) procedures were diagnostic, and 13 (35%) were therapeutic. The most common site of perforation was the sigmoid colon (62%); followed by the ascending colon (16%); cecum, transverse colon, and splenic flexure (11%); and rectum, anastomotic, or unknown (11%). The time to diagnosis ranged from immediate to 72 hours (29 <1 hour, 8 >1 hour). All patients were hospitalized; 35 (95%) underwent exploratory laparotomy, and 2 (5%) were treated conservatively. No patient died.
Conclusions: Reported perforations for procedures performed in endoscopic ambulatory surgery centers occurred most frequently during diagnostic colonoscopy in older woman with a history of surgery or diverticular disease. Reported perforations in endoscopic ambulatory surgery centers were uncommon.