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Can colonoscopy trigger pancreatitis? An expert answers

According to Dr Rajesh Gopalakrishna, "while certain risk factors for pancreatitis, such as family history and genetics, cannot be changed, making some lifestyle changes can lower the risk of pancreatitis."

By: Lifestyle Desk | New Delhi |
July 1, 2022 10:00:53 am
Pancreatitis is a condition in which the pancreas becomes inflamed. (Photo: Pixabay)

According to various reports, Travis Barker has been hospitalised due to pancreatitis — a condition in which the pancreas becomes inflamed. The condition, according to TMZ, “was triggered by a colonoscopy”.

The news of the Blink-182 drummer hospitalisation came after he tweeted: “God save me”.

The pancreas is a vital organ that is responsible for the production of insulin, which regulates blood sugars, as well as the digestive enzymes in the body.

Explaining the causes, Dr Rajesh Gopalakrishna, Clinical Professor, Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Amrita Hospital said binge drinking, smoking, eating a high-fat diet, viral infections, and abdominal trauma are some of the usual triggers of pancreatitis. “But there are also various factors that can trigger the early release of the digestive enzymes which may then attack the pancreas itself, causing injury and inflammation. These effects may be short-term and of varying degrees of severity (acute pancreatitis), or long-term leading to permanent damage to pancreas (chronic pancreatitis),” said.

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But does colonoscopy — an endoscopic examination done to know of any changes in the colon — trigger pancreatitis? “Colonoscopy is a well-tolerated and safe diagnostic procedure, usually performed under conscious sedation. Abdominal pain is an occasional complication after colonoscopy. However, acute pancreatitis is a rare complication after colonoscopy and is more likely to be seen after balloon-assisted enteroscopy of the small bowel,” the expert told

Symptoms of pancreatitis

Abdominal pain is a cardinal symptom. “The pain typically occurs after eating food and is often associated with nausea and vomiting. The pain usually spreads from the abdomen to the back and is worse on lying down flat on one’s back,” explained Dr Rajesh. Additionally, the presence of jaundice suggests gallstones are the cause of pancreatitis. Weight loss and oily stools may be seen in some chronic pancreatitis, he added.



The first treatment for an acute attack of pancreatitis, requires a person to refrain from consuming any food and liquids for a short period to avoid stimulation and provide rest to the pancreas.

“Severe pancreatitis needs hospitalisation and even ICU care, occasionally. An endoscopic procedure (ERCP) may be needed to drain bile ducts that are blocked by gallstones. Antibiotics are often needed to treat infections and endoscopic or surgical procedures to remove damaged tissue or drain fluid in the abdomen may be occasionally needed,” he said.

Tips for healthy pancreas

According to Dr Rajesh, certain risk factors for pancreatitis, such as family history and genetics, cannot be changed. However, making some lifestyle changes that can lower the risk of pancreatitis.


*Consume a healthy diet that includes foods that are rich in protein, low in animal fats, and contain antioxidants.

*The diet should include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes (pulses), and nonfat/low fat dairy or diary alternatives.

*Lean cuts of meat and egg whites can be used as animal protein sources. Healthy fats such as olive oil, fish, nuts, and seeds, may be consumed with careful portion control.

*Avoid fried and high fat food like French fries and chips, junk foods like burgers, processed meat like sausages, and mayonnaise.

*Eating more fiber can lower the chances of having gallstones or elevated blood triglycerides. Both of those conditions are common causes of acute pancreatitis.


*Eat smaller and more frequent meals. Cutting back or stopping alcohol use and avoiding tobacco are key steps in keeping pancreas healthy.

*Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight may help lower the risk of developing pancreatitis. Healthy weight also lowers risk for gallstones, which are a common cause of pancreatitis.

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📣 The above article is for information purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional for any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.

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First published on: 01-07-2022 at 10:00:53 am

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