Public Release: 

Bleeding during endoscopy: Do anti-inflammatories play a role?

MUHC researchers examine the evidence

McGill University

Does an aspirin-a-day increase the risk of bleeding during invasive diagnostic procedure? This is an important concern for many patients who take these and other antiplatelet agents in an effort to reduce heart attacks or strokes. Researchers at the MUHC have shown that antiplatelet drugs do not contribute to post-endoscopic bleeding. Their findings are published in this month's issue of Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics.

"Clinical guidelines for use of antiplatelets during these procedures have been ambiguous," says Dr. Alan Barkun, MUHC Chief of Gastroenterology. "Some suggest withholding or stopping these medications ten days prior to the endoscopic procedure. Others will not perform the procedure if the patient was taking antiplatelet agents. In some cases this could have serious negative clinical implications. Our findings show that these precautionary measures are not necessary."

Barkun and his colleagues, including Nadeem Hussain, a clinician at the University of Western Ontario, compared the use of antiplatelets in patients who experienced bleeding with those who did not. Out of 126 endoscopy patients, they demonstrated that exposure to antiplatelets was not significantly associated with post procedure bleeding.

"Approximately 70 percent of individuals over the age of 65 are taking non steroidal anti-inflammatory medications or aspirin regularly. Our findings show that withholding these is not necessary for patients undergoing therapeutic endoscopic procedures," adds Dr. Barkun, a professor of medicine at McGill University. "This will also help ease any potential worry patients coming in for their screening colonoscopy exams may have. It is indeed important that individuals at risk for developing colorectal cancer come in for their procedures."


March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in Canada. Regular screening can diagnose the disease at an early stage when it is more treatable, therefore reducing mortality.

The Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI MUHC) is a world-renowned biomedical and health-care hospital research centre. Located in Montreal, Quebec, the institute is the research arm of the MUHC, a university health center affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University. The institute supports over 500 researchers, nearly 1000 graduate and post-doctoral students and operates more than 300 laboratories devoted to a broad spectrum of fundamental and clinical research. The Research Institute operates at the forefront of knowledge, innovation and technology and is inextricably linked to the clinical programs of the MUHC, ensuring that patients benefit directly from the latest research-based knowledge. For further details visit:

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