- Travis Barker's hospitalization is reportedly due to pancreatitis after a colonoscopy.
- Complications from colonoscopies are rare, and pancreatitis after one is almost unheard of.
- A gastroenterologist told Insider the story "doesn't make sense" from a medical perspective.
Now, sources have told TMZ the Blink-182 drummer has pancreatitis, or an inflamed pancreas. The pancreas is a gland on the left side of the abdomen that secretes enzymes that help break down food. It also helps regulate blood sugar, according to Hopkins Medicine.
TMZ said doctors suspected Barker's condition was related to a recent colonoscopy. Colonoscopies are a colon-cancer screening tool typically recommended to men of average risk every 10 years once they turn 45. Barker is 46.
Dr. Eric Goldstein, a New York gastroenterologist, told Insider that colonoscopy-induced pancreatitis was so rare the reports should be "taken with a grain of salt."
"While it may be true that he had a colonoscopy recently, and it may be true that he has pancreatitis, it's exceedingly hard to believe they're truly cause and effect," he said.
Most pancreatitis cases are due to gallstones or alcohol misuse
While complications from colonoscopies are rare, they can include a reaction to the anesthesia, bleeding, or a tear in the intestinal wall, the Mayo Clinic reports.
Developing pancreatitis from a colonoscopy is especially rare, Goldstein said, given the anatomy of where the pancreas is in relation to the part of the colon probed during a colonoscopy. "It's not a thing we consider," he said, whereas injury to the liver or spleen, for example, is.
He says 80% of pancreatitis cases are due to gallstones or alcohol misuse and most of the other cases are due to medications, viruses, or even procedures other than colonoscopies.
"A person having pancreatitis is certainly not unusual. A person having a colonoscopy is certainly not unusual," Goldstein said. But a person having pancreatitis because of a colonoscopy, he continued, "doesn't make sense."
There are case reports describing pancreatitis after colonoscopy
In one 2019 case report, doctors describe a 53-year-old woman who went to the emergency room with abdominal pain and received a diagnosis of pancreatitis. Her pain had begun two hours after a routine colonoscopy, which came back clean.
But she seemed to develop an inflammatory response to the procedure, leading her to stay in the hospital for 11 days.
It's unclear how a colonoscopy can lead to pancreatitis, the doctors write, but it could happen if the colonoscopy tool somehow aggravates the pancreas. Alternatively, it could be a reaction to the colon being puffed up too much during the procedure, too much pressure on the abdomen, or irritation from a burning tool that can be used to remove polyps during colonoscopies.
The case report authors write that while pain after colonoscopy is common, pancreatitis shouldn't be overlooked once more common diagnoses are ruled out. "Colonoscopy-induced pancreatitis is an extremely rare phenomenon that can sometimes be missed leading to delayed diagnosis and treatment," the say.