Study: Propofol Colonoscopies May Result in Aspiration Pneumonia

Colonoscopies performed under propofol anesthesia often result in aspiration pneumonia, according to an article published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The study was prompted by an increase in colonoscopies performed with propofol, a common ambulatory anesthesia drug. Researchers from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland reviewed 5 percent of cancer-free outpatient colonoscopy claims from the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results registry. Procedures were preformed between 2000 and 2009, according to the study.

Researchers focused on three common complications from general anesthesia — splenic injury, perforation and aspiration pneumonia. Previous research found aspiration occurred in only 0.16 percent of colonoscopies under anesthesia.

Results showed a 0.22 percent complication rate for patients who received anesthesia, compared with a rate of 0.16 percent for those who did not receive anesthesia. The deeper sedation may impair normal response and lead to complications, according to the report.

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