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Are repeated colonoscopies harmful?

Q: I am 25 years old and a patient of diarrhoeal type of Irritable Bowel Syndrome and underwent full length colonoscopy at a leading private Gastrointestinal Institute. Since then doctor has performed repeated colonoscopy and upper G.I. endoscopy every year (whenever condition worsens). I took second opinion from another expert who contradicted the procedures. Till now I have undergone full length colonoscopy 4 times, sigmoidoscopy 2 times and & upper G.I. endoscopy 3 times. Every time result is normal. My doctor told me that he is doing this just to rule out any adverse development during the course of treatment and to rule out any other serious problem. Could you answer the following questions? Is is normal to do colonoscopy so frequently? Are there some side effects or adverse effects of repeated colonoscopy on digestive system; what precautions should be taken?

A:If you have had a diagnosis of the irritable bowel syndrome - the normal practice is to do just one colonoscopy plus or minus a gastroscopy if this was necessary from your symptoms. The only reason for repeating colonoscopies would be if you have had an abnormality detected previously eg a polyp, which might need a follow-up. There are always complications in doing any procedure such as a colonoscopy - serious ones would include a perforation (the colonoscope piercing the bowel wall) which can have serious consequences.


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