Travis Barker, the 46-year-old drummer for Blink-182, was hospitalized Tuesday morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, according to TMZ—reportedly due to pancreatitis, potentially “triggered” by a recent colonoscopy.
Pancreatitis is the clinical term for inflammation of the pancreas, a gland in the abdomen that aids in digestion and blood sugar regulation.
In cases of acute pancreatitis, the inflammation can cause severe symptoms, like fever, nausea or vomiting, and pain in the abdomen. Research estimates over 270,000 hospitalizations for acute pancreatitis each year, with over 80% of cases being mild.
While acute pancreatitis is typically caused by gallstones (hardened deposits in the gallbladder), it can, in very rare cases, result from even a routine colonoscopy.
Experts stress, however, that it’s still far too early in Barker’s case to directly link the screening procedure to his reported pancreatitis.
“I think more facts need to be known about the situation before commenting [that] the colonoscopy caused it,” Suneal Agarwal, MD, associate professor of gastroenterology, hepatology, and nutrition at Baylor College of Medicine, told Health.
“It’s extremely rare. I can’t stress the fact enough that it is very, very rare to get pancreatitis after a colonoscopy.”
Can You Get Pancreatitis From a Colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is a procedure during which a doctor examines your rectum and colon through a colonoscope—a flexible tube with a light and camera at the end.
The purpose of the procedure is to look for any abnormalities in the lower gastrointestinal tract, such as inflamed tissue, ulcers, polyps, or cancer.
Colonoscopies are considered safe, standard procedures. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), there are only about four to eight serious complications for every 10,000 procedures.
The most common complications following a colonoscopy include bleeding and perforation (a hole in the wall) of the colon, typically among patients who need a polyp removed for observation.
Doctors can treat bleeding right away—or as soon as it emerges—and perforations can be treated with additional surgery. Additional complications include adverse reactions to the sedatives used, severe pain in the abdomen, or (in extremely rare cases) death.