Risks of an endoscopy 

An endoscopy is usually a safe procedure and the risk of serious complications is very low.

Possible complications include:

  • an infection in a part of the body the endoscope is used to examine  which may require treatment with antibiotics
  • piercing or tearing (perforation) of an organ, or excessive bleeding  which may require surgery to repair damage to the tissues or organ, and sometimes a blood transfusion


Sedation is usually safe, but it can occasionally cause complications, including:

  • feeling or being sick
  • a burning sensation at the site of the injection
  • saliva or, rarely, small particles of food falling into the lungs, triggering an infection (aspiration pneumonia)
  • irregular heartbeat or low blood pressure
  • breathing difficulties

When to seek medical help

Contact your GP if you notice any signs of infection in the area of your body where the endoscope was inserted. Signs of infection include:

  • redness
  • pain
  • swelling
  • a discharge of fluids or pus
  • a high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above

A number of other signs could indicate a complication after having an endoscopy. These include:

  • black or very dark coloured stools
  • shortness of breath 
  • severe and persistent abdominal pain
  • vomiting blood
  • chest pain

Contact your GP or visit the accident and emergency (A&E) department of your local hospital immediately if you notice any of these signs and symptoms. 

Page last reviewed: 29/07/2014

Next review due: 29/11/2016