Iatrogenic perforation at colonic imaging.Colorectal Dis. 2011 May; 13(5):481-93.CD
Adequate colonic imaging is generally an invasive procedure with attendant risks, particularly perforation. Endoscopy, barium enema and computed tomographic colonography (CTC) are the main techniques for investigating patients with symptoms of, or screening for, colorectal cancer. The potential complications of these investigations have to be weighed against the benefits. This article reviews the literature on the incidence, presentation and management of iatrogenic colonic perforation at colonic imaging.
A literature review of relevant studies was undertaken using PubMed, Cochrane library and personal archives of references. Manual cross-referencing was performed, and relevant references from selected articles were reviewed. Studies reporting complications of endoscopy, barium enema and CT colonography were included in this review.
Twenty-four studies were identified comprising 640,433 colonoscopies, with iatrogenic perforation recorded in 585 patients (0.06%). The reported perforation rate with double-contrast barium enema was between 0.02 and 0.24%. Serious complications with CTC were infrequent, though nine perforations were reported in a case series of 24,365 patients (0.036%) undergoing CTC.
Perforation remains an infrequent and almost certainly under-reported, complication of all colonic imaging modalities. Risk awareness, early diagnosis and active management of iatrogenic perforation minimizes an adverse outcome.