What are the symptoms of a perforated bowel following a colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is a medical procedure wherein a gastroenterologist (doctor of the bowels) examines the patient's colon by inserting a camera into the colon and observing a monitor. In addition to examining the colon, polyps (growths on the walls of the colon) can be removed during a colonoscopy so that they can be tested for cancer. One of the dangers of a colonoscopy is that the large intestine can be perforated (punctured or cut) during the operation. This can lead to serious infections, so it's best to be on the lookout for symptoms.

Time Frame

Some discomfort after the procedure is normal, but if the colon has been perforated, the discomfort will grow instead of diminish over time.


Patients do not have symptoms right away. There are no outwardly obvious symptoms of a perforated bowel until the bowel contents have seeped into the bowel cavity and caused infection.


Perforated bowel symptoms or, more accurately, the symptoms of the infection include high fever, nausea and severe abdominal pain that worsens upon movement.


Vomiting and then dehydration are other symptoms that can occur with a perforated bowel.


Those who have diverticulitis and inflammatory bowel disorders like Crohn's disease are more likely to get perforated colons after colonoscopies.


People with these symptoms after their colonoscopies should call their doctors and head to the nearest emergency room immediately. They need to be treated with antibiotics and possibly surgery.

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About the Author

Jennifer Zimmerman is a former preschool and elementary teacher who has been writing professionally since 2007. She has written numerous articles for The Bump, Band Back Together, Prefab and other websites, and has edited scripts and reports for DWJ Television and Inversion Productions. She is a graduate of Boston University and Lewis and Clark College.