July 1, 2022 – Travis Barker, drummer for rock band blink-182, was hospitalized this week in Los Angeles with pancreatitis.
Barker, 46, husband of celebrity influencer Kourtney Kardashian, recently had a colonoscopy to check for colon cancer. Experts have weighed in on how likely the link is between his colonoscopy and pancreatitis.
“It’s possible, but it’s rare,” says Timothy B. Gardner, MD, director of pancreatic disease at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, NH.
“It’s extremely rare,” agrees Vladimir M Kushnir, MD. “Colonoscopy is an extremely safe and life-saving procedure.”
Serious complications from a colonoscopy occur less than 1 in 1,000 times, he says.
Only five cases of pancreatitis after a colonoscopy have been reported in the medical literature, Kushnir says, usually after very strenuous procedures. “This is not something I would ever worry about if I had a colonoscopy or if a family member had a colonoscopy,” says Kushnir, director of bariatric endoscopy at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
“I’ve done thousands upon thousands of colonoscopies and I’ve never had a patient develop pancreatitis,” says Gardner.
One thing remains unclear: How much time passed between Barker’s colonoscopy and his pancreatitis. Typically, the pancreas would have to become inflamed within 24 to 48 hours to be related, Gardner says.
More common causes
The pancreas is a large digestive gland that sits behind the stomach. It can become inflamed for a variety of reasons, but it is usually related to gallstone disease or excessive alcohol consumption.
When the pancreas becomes inflamed, it can cause abdominal pain and nausea. “In most cases, it gets better within a few days,” Kushnir says. “But in some rare cases, patients can develop a serious inflammatory condition and it can be quite serious. Pancreatitis is actually one of the most common gastrointestinal conditions that requires hospitalization.”
Gardner agrees that most people with pancreatitis recover within a few days. He also notes that some medications and pancreatic cancer can also cause pancreatitis.
Part of the colon is called the splenic bulge, which is located on the left side of the abdomen, right next to the tail of the pancreas. “So they’re right next to each other,” Gardner says.
“So it’s conceivable that if we do a colonoscopy, the pressure could cause mechanical contact with that part of the pancreas,” he says. But again, it is very rare.
According to a report in PeopleBarker entered Cedars-Sinai Hospital on Tuesday with cramps, extreme abdominal pain and difficulty walking.