Colonoscopic splenic injuries: Incidence and management

Ashwin S. Kamath, Corey W. Iqbal, Michael G. Sarr, Daniel C. Cullinane, Scott P. Zietlow, David R. Farley, Mark D. Sawyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Purpose: Splenic injuries that occur during colonoscopies are rare. There is no available incidence of this serious complication, and the literature is limited to case reports. Our study looks at single institution experience of splenic injuries during colonoscopy to define the incidence and management of this serious complication. Methods: All patients from 1980 through June 2008 sustaining a splenic injury during colonoscopy were reviewed. Results: Four patients (of 296,248 colonoscopies) sustained a splenic injury directly from colonoscopy performed at our institution (incidence 0.001%). Three additional patients were treated at our tertiary referral center after splenic injury from colonoscopy performed elsewhere. The mean age at the time of colonoscopy was 54 years (range 40-70 years). The most common presenting symptom was abdominal pain (n=4) with a mean decrease in hemoglobin of 6.5 g/dl (range 4.5-8.5 g/dl). Splenic injury was diagnosed by computed tomography in five patients. Six patients received a mean of 5.5 U of packed red blood cells (range 2-14 U). All patients were managed with splenectomy, six patients within 24 h of the index colonoscopy, and one patient presented more than 24 h after initial colonoscopy. There was no evidence of preexisting splenic disease in any of the patients by surgical pathology, and there were no postoperative complications or deaths. The mean duration of stay was 10 days (range 7-15 days). All patients are alive at a median follow up of 22 months (range 1-164 months). Conclusion: Splenic injury occurring during colonoscopy is a rare but serious complication. Patients presented with abdominal pain and a precipitous decrease in hemoglobin and have all required emergent splenectomy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2136-2140
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Gastrointestinal Surgery
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2009


  • Colonoscopy
  • Iatrogenic
  • Splenectomy
  • Splenic injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Gastroenterology


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