Joan Rivers Cause Of Death: Lack of Oxygen

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The New York City medical examiner’s office reports that comedian, Joan Rivers, died from complications due to surgery. From spokesperson Julie Bolcer, via The Hollywood Reporter:

“OCME [Office of the Chief Medical Examiner] has completed its investigation. The cause of Ms. Rivers’ death is anoxic encephalopathy due to hypoxic arrest during laryngoscopy and upper gastrointestinal endoscopy with propofol sedation for evaluation of voice changes and gastroesophageal reflux disease. The manner of death is therapeutic complication. The classification of a death as a therapeutic complication means that the death resulted from a predictable complication of medical therapy.”

Basically, there are risks when a patient goes under sedation. One of those risks is death. Unfortunately, Joan was in that small percentage who don’t survive sedation. Once she lost oxygen to the brain, which is what happened here, there was likely little chance she would recover.

A laryngoscopy is “a procedure in which a doctor examines the back of the throat and vocal cords,” explained The Hollywood Reporter. Joan had been complaining about recent changes to her voice. An upper gastrointestinal endoscopy “involves looking at the upper gastrointestinal tract with a light.”

In a statement released to the press, Joan’s daughter, Melissa Rivers, said: “We continue to be saddened by our tragic loss and grateful for the enormous outpouring of love and support from around the world. We have no further comment at this time.”

Joan Rivers died in New York City on September 4, days after the procedures, which are considered routine.

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Founder and editor of, home of the awesomest fan community on the net. I love cheesy singing shows of all kinds, whether reality or scripted. I adore American Idol, but also love The Voice, Glee, X Factor and more!