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 disorders at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, NH.
“It’s exceedingly rare,” agrees Vladimir MKushnir, MD. “Colonoscopy is an extremely safe and lifesaving procedure.”
Serious complications from a colonoscopy happen well less than 1 in 1,000 times, he says.
Only five cases of pancreatitis after a colonoscopy have been reported in medical literature, Kushnir says, usually after very hard procedures. “This is not something I would ever worry about if I were having a colonoscopy or a family member was having a colonoscopy,” says Kushnir, director of bariatric endoscopy at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
“I’ve done thousands and thousands of colonoscopies, and I’ve never had a patient develop pancreatitis,” Gardner says.
One thing remains unclear: how much time there was 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 big digestive gland that sits behind the stomach. It can get inflamed for a variety of reasons, but it is most often related to gallstone disease or excessive alcohol use.
When the pancreas gets inflamed, it can cause belly pain and nausea. “In most cases, it gets better in a few days,” Kushnir says. “But in some rare cases, patients can get into a serious inflammatory condition and it can be quite severe. Pancreatitis is actually one of the most common gastrointestinal conditions to require 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.
One part of the colon is called the splenic flexure, which is at the left upper part of the belly that sits right next to the tail of the pancreas. “So they are right next to each other,” Gardner says.
“So conceivably, if we’re doing a colonoscopy, the pressure could cause mechanical contact with that part of the pancreas,” he says. But again, it’s very rare.
According to a report in People, Barker entered Cedars-Sinai Hospital on Tuesday with cramps, extreme stomach pain, and difficulty walking.