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Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker clarified on Instagram that his recent hospitalization for pancreatitis was after an endoscopy, but what is an endoscopy?
“I went in for an endoscopy on Monday feeling great. But after dinner, I developed excruciating pain and have been hospitalized ever since,” the 46-year-old said on his Instagram story on Saturday, July 2.
“During the endoscopy, I had a very small polyp removed right in a very sensitive area, usually handled by specialists, which unfortunately damaged a critical pancreatic drainage tube. This resulted in severe life threatening pancreatitis.”
He is now recovering and doing much better.
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The gastrointestinal tract is a “long twisting tube” that spans from the mouth, the stomach, the small intestine to the large intestine, which consists of the cecum, colon and rectum, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
An endoscopy is: “A procedure that uses an endoscope to examine the inside of the body. An endoscope is a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens for viewing. It may also have a tool to remove tissue to be checked under a microscope for signs of disease,” the National Cancer Institute said.
An upper endoscopy, otherwise known as an esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD), is a procedure that examines the upper digestive tract, which includes the esophagus, the stomach and the duodenum or the first part of the small intestine, according to the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG).
It is often performed when patients have bleeding in the upper digestive tract, for persistent heartburn, nausea or vomiting, abdominal pain or trouble swallowing, per ACG.
An EGD is considered a safe procedure, but it can cause complications, which includes a tear in the lining of the esophagus, stomach or duodenum, bleeding or infection, per ACG.
Another type of endoscopy is known as endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, or ERCP, which is inserted into the patient’s mouth down to the small intestine to treat bile and pancreatic duct issues, per ACG.
It can cause pancreatitis by manipulation of the pancreatic duct opening (ampulla) from the scope rather than pressure trauma to the pancreas itself, Dr. Kanwar Gill, a gastroenterologist at John Muir Health in Northern California, told Fox News.
“The most common reason [for an ERCP] is to find and remove gallstones stuck in the bile duct. Other common reasons are to look for causes of acute pancreatitis (inflammation or irritation of the pancreas), to unblock the ducts when they are not able to drain because of tumor in the bile ducts or pancreas, and to treat leaking of the bile or pancreas ducts,” per ACG.
Although Barker didn’t specify what kind of endoscopy he had, he could have had an ampullectomy, which means removing the ampulla (site of drainage of pancreatic duct and bile duct), where it is common to have adenoma, Gill said.
“In case of deep enteroscopy, like double balloon or single balloon scopes, [which] gets to a deep length [of the gastrointestinal tract] to check small bowel problems, the concept is same as pressure trauma [to cause pancreatitis],” he said.
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A colonoscopy, however, involves using a colonoscope which is a flexible instrument with a camera at the end that allows the operator to evaluate the entire colon in real-time as they are passing the scope.
A colonoscopy screens for colon cancer as well as diagnoses and/or evaluates various disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, such colon polyps, inflammatory bowel disease, bleeding, change in bowel habits, abdominal pain or obstruction, ACG added.
ACG noted colonoscopies are “extremely safe” when performed by a well-trained physician, which is often a gastroenterologist.
“Although quite rare, most [colonoscopy] complications are related to sedation administration (cardiac and respiratory problems); the colon may also become partially torn (perforated) and this may require surgery,” ACG noted.
“Rarely, bleeding from polyp removal or from the procedure itself may require additional treatment such as hospitalization and/or blood transfusions.”
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Although earlier recommendations were for most Americans to start having a colonoscopy by age 50, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force now recommends age 45 – as long as the patient has no colorectal symptoms, family history of colon cancer, polyps or inflammatory bowel disease.
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“If one or more first degree relative (parent, sibling or child) has had a precancerous polyp or colon cancer, the general guideline is to begin colon cancer screening 10 years younger than the youngest age of the family member with colon cancer, or age 40, whichever is younger,” per ACG.
“There are additional guidelines for suspected or confirmed rare syndromes, and you should discuss these options with your doctor.”