Endoscopy Risk & Mitral Valve Prolapse. Part 1

Q.I will be having a colonoscopy along with a gastroscopy and am nervous because I have mitral valve prolapse. Is this procedure dangerous for someone with this heart condition? Louise

A.Both colonoscopy and gastroscopy, also known as esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) or upper endoscopy, are very safe diagnostic endoscopic procedures. Complications rarely occur, and when they do, they are most often related to sedatives or other medications given for the procedure. An extremely small percentage of patients suffer serious complications, such as perforation of the bowel.

A.That said, one important factor that a doctor should consider before ordering an endoscopic procedure is whether the patient should be given antibiotics ahead of time. Antibiotics can help prevent a potentially serious complication known as endocarditis — an infection of the heart valves. Although the risk of an endoscopic procedure causing endocarditis is incredibly small, it is recommended that certain patients receive antibiotics as a precaution.

Generally, doctors base their decision on whether to give antibiotics on both the type of procedure being done and a patient’s underlying heart condition. Thus, a procedure in which the chance of bacteria entering the bloodstream is high is more likely to require antibiotics.

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