NYC Medical examiner releases cause of death for Joan Rivers

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The New York City Medical Examiner released its report Wednesday on the investigation into the cause of death for Joan Rivers, concluding that the comedy legend died from low blood oxygen during a medical procedure.

The report said the death was caused by "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 report said the manner of death is therapeutic complication.

The finding was that Rivers was sedated with propofol before she died of low blood oxygen during a procedure to treat voice changes and acid reflux.

Anoxic encephalopathy means that she did not have sufficient oxygen to her brain tissue for a prolonged period of time, which caused damage to her brain.

The classification of a death as a therapeutic complication means that the death resulted from a predictable complication of medical therapy, the autopsy concluded. The classification is not commonly used; more deaths are certified as homicides, suicides or natural causes.

Rivers, who was 81, died a week after going into cardiac arrest at an Upper East Side clinic. She was undergoing a routine diagnostic procedure to examine raspiness in her voice and reflux, and was under anesthesia.

Rivers' daughter and TV partner, Melissa Rivers, said they had no comment on the ruling.

"We continue to be saddened by our tragic loss and grateful for the enormous outpouring of love and support from around the world," she said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the state health department investigation into Yorkville Endoscopy, the clinic where Rivers had her procedure, is complete.

The department has forwarded its findings to the Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, but has not made the details public.

In a statement, Yorkville Endoscopy said "HIPPA laws prevent us from disclosing any information regarding patients."

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