Study Supports Colonoscopy without Sedation

Colonoscopy codes in CPT® 2009 all include moderate sedation, but a recent trend in the United States may be an indicator of things to come. Will the drive to lower health care spending be the impetus providers need to perform colonoscopies on patients without sedation?

It isn’t unusual for doctors in other parts of the world to perform diagnostic colonoscopies on consenting nonsedated patients, but until recently it’s practically unheard of in the states. An AMNews Jan. 12 story tells how the practice of performing colonoscopies without sedation has allowed one Californian doctor to continue offering the service during a nursing shortage, and why other medical experts fear change.

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55 Responses to “Study Supports Colonoscopy without Sedation”

  1. E Smith says:

    I am afraid if patients will be asked to get the colonoscopy without sedation we will have less patient getting the procedure done and colon cancer will be on the rise. My husabnd is a colon cancer patient and I know without the sedation he will not get another colonoscopy.

  2. JWilson says:

    I haven’t undergone a colonoscopy due to my age and not being high-risk as I have no family history of rectal or related cancers. Having said that, I would postpone the procedure indefinitely if I had to have it performed without some sort of sedation.

  3. ADreistadt says:

    I have a colonoscopy every five years because my father died of colon cancer which spread to his liver. I will not have a colonoscopy without sedation. I agree with E. Smith and J. Wilson and their comments. I would even be willing to pay for the Versed and administration of same, but I definitely would not be willing to go through this test without some Versed.

  4. Penny Nelson says:

    I had my first Colonoscopy in 2003. I have hypersensitivities so the provider infused as little Versed as possible. I felt it at the splenetic flexure and he had to infuse more. I cannot imagine a colonoscopy without versed. Some Military hospitals have done it without sedation and it is very painful.

  5. AB says:

    I had colonoscopy few years back and the md did not provide enough sedation. I will never go through another colonoscopy unless I am totally sedated. It is painful without the sedation.

  6. DMRamos says:

    I remember the first time I was not given enough sedation I grabbed on to the nurse with my nails digging into her arm. It is one of the most painful procedures for anyone to have to experience. I too have a Colonscopy every 2 years due to a high risk of Colon CA which runs in both sides of my family.

  7. Susan says:

    I had a sigmoioscopy without any sedation back in 1982 and had to breathe like I was giving birth just to get through the procedure–not to mention the humiliation of practically being stood on my head while it was being done. In 2007, I had a colonoscopy and was fully sedated during the outpatient procedure. After having experienced both procedures, there is absolutely no way I’d ever have either one of those procedures done in the future without sedation. If this becomes a payor issue in the future, I hope AMA lobbyists will step in and get it stopped.

  8. Mary says:

    I had my colonoscopy just last week. I also, was not given enough sedation and woke up.. It was so painful I’m thinking I never will go back. However, my mother died from colon cancer and I did have a polyp that was removed, so I know how important it is to have this test. My first procedure 5 years ago was a breeze – I did not wake up until I was in recovery – this was with a different physician. It must be up to the indvidual physician on how much versed to administer. I will go back, but to the physician who performed my first test

  9. Karen says:

    Another arguement for the new CT Scan/MRI technology.
    Due to the prep being the same, if polyps or other issues are spotted, there would be no reason for not wheeling you from the imaging source directly into a surgical suite to attend to the problem. I will gladly pay for the sedation out-of-pocket. That’s the only way they’d ever see me. The test is humiliating enough and the prep is barbaric to say the least. The last familiy member that had this done had to have the procedure cancelled. Due to the prep and a judgemental, uncaring nurse at the office, said fmly member was so dehydrated the day of the procedure, they couldn’t access a vein for the I.V. Because it was routine, she’s never gone back.

  10. SB says:

    I would absolutely NOT have a colonoscopy without sedation. Colonoscopy suites are supplied with tools to handle polyps, cautery, etc., so there isn’t need to go anywhere else if a minor problem is diagnosed. If you are under sedation already, physicians prefer the calm atmosphere if they had to perform any procedure. My first colonoscopy diagnosed AVMs in the colon and I was anxious going into it just due to the “what if’s” and “pros and cons” list. I would not have had it without sedation. The second colonoscopy diagnosed actual bleeds which were cauterized and taken care of at the time of colonoscopy. I could not imagine not being sedated for that, as I was “sore” for several days afterwards. Patients should not have to pay for medication when accompanying any invasive procedure.

  11. LB says:

    I finally talked my father into getting a colonoscopy due to family history of colon cancer. He was not given sedation, this was many years ago. He said it was the most painful experience he has ever had and will not have another one, even with sedation.

  12. Danette says:

    My sister had a colonoscopy in December and woke up in the middle of it. It was so painful she was screaming, and she has a high pain tolerance. They gave her more medication but it was almost too late to help. If the patient has a twisted colon it it difficult to manoeuvre the scope which in turn causes undo pain to the patient. They most definately need to be comfortable in that situation.
    I had one a couple of years ago and had Versed and it was a piece of cake.

  13. Beverly says:

    I have had this procedure 3 times. The first was done while I was 16 weeks pregnant. They used minimal sedation, I felt it, and I had a death grip on the nurse, she likely went home with bruises on her arm that day. I will not have this done again unless adequate sedation is given. If I have to pay for it out of pocket, or bring my own, whatever it takes, this girl goes under, or she won’t go at all!!

  14. Ann says:

    Evidently the person(s) proposing this idea has never had a colonoscopy. Maybe we should schedule them for a screening colonoscopy without sedation and see if they still have the same proposal after the procedure.

  15. PK says:

    I have a family history of Colon Cancer so I had my screening early. Since I am a coder and have coded many colonoscopies, I wanted to see for myself the inside of a colon hoping to understand the procedure as I coded them, I asked the nurse if I could watch. My definition of “watching” was “could you turn the screen towards me so I can see”. However, the nurse’s definition of “watching” was NO MEDS!!!!!!! By the time I was screaming for meds, I was told “I’m almost done, so there is no need for it” I, too, like Susan was doing Lamaze breathing just to get through it. Next time I definately WILL be medicated.

  16. Jeanne says:

    I have had 4 colonscopy screenings and have risk as my father died of colon cancer. I can’t even imagine how it would be without sedation as it was uncomfortable with it. I would say I would pass on future screenings also if it is without sedation, and just take my chances.

  17. Holly says:

    This is where healthcare has taken us…to save money we have to torture patients. There are so many ways to save money it should not be at our patients expense. What a sad day that would be. Just step back to the frontier days when they gave you a shot of whiskey and a bullet to bite on.

  18. PB says:

    I say let all the payer decision-makers have the procedure without sedation – I don’t think they would be so quick to make sedation a non-covered procedure with colonoscopies!

  19. J Todd says:

    I had my first colonoscopy in November 2008. My physician was wonderful, as was his nurse, but even though I did not really “feel” sedated, I certainly was. I will have another in 10 years, as required, but not without sedation!

  20. S Brewer says:

    I have had a colonscopy without sedation and it will NEVER happen again unless I do have sedation. The rate of colon cancer will go up if sedation is not provided to patients and that makes the extra cost for the sedation well worth it.

  21. C Rudkin says:

    We have several Drs that do colonoscopies in our facility. Until recently all of them were using Versed (conscious sedation). Now some of them are using Propofol, which requires the anesthesiologist to administer. Hopefully the drive to lower cost would mean the Dr can administer the Versed and it would cost out of pocket for the anesthesiologist to give Propofol.

  22. Jodie C says:

    I am only 25 & I had to have my first colonoscopy two weeks ago (due to some symptoms I was exhibiting & a family history.) I was very aprehensive about having this done to say the least. All I kept hearing before hand was how the procedure was nothing because I would be sedated, which was very comforting to me. I had Versed & Propofol both so I was out. If this was not the case & I honestly don’t believe that I would have gone through with the procedure. I would pay out of pocket if needed to ensure I would be sedated but there are many people who aren’t financially able to make that choice.

  23. Lavanya Mohan says:

    For patients with neuro complaints, in pregnant women after 6th month, unable to eat properly, may be anxiety(spastic colon), stress related types of problems even, for patients suffering from hematochezia, and for some patients during post-op period(colon stuck type)- it is not very free to move the colonoscope and hence may need concious sedation before they begin a colonoscopy.

  24. D.Garner says:

    Maybe the powers that be should listen to the voices of experience. I have had 2 colonscopies and would not have had either one without sedation. Neither one took a great amount of time and while the physician assured me that I would be comfortable during the procedure, I actually don’t remember a thing and am glad of it. The sedation allowed me to be at ease and the physician to accomplish what he needed to.

  25. Jen B. says:

    I have Crohn’s, so you can imagine all the testing I have been thru…I did have a flex sigmoid in the office with no sedation…..that was my first experience. I avoided the colonoscopy for a long time and finally consented, with sedation of course, no problem. Unfortunately the powers that be are the ones who also introduced the “outpatient” mastectomies, imagine! and the ones who determined birth control pill should not be covered but Viagra should! go figure……what is part of the oath, physcian do not harm?

  26. D.Brummet says:

    I work for 4 gastroenterologist. They all use sedation. They have had colonoscopies themselves and tried it without sedation. Before the scope was past the rectal vault they were asking for sedation. They know first hand, IT HURTS without sedation. If a patient can’t tolerate regular sedation, our doctors opt for MAC sedation. They will not put their patients thru unecessary pain.

  27. Shannon K. says:

    I also work for a gastroenterologist and agree with all of the above statements. We’ve also had many patients request actual anesthesia because they have waken up during prior colonoscopies using just versed, so they want to be completely under. It is just ridiculous for anyone to think colonoscopies should be done without sedation. Where’s the humanity, people?!

  28. Melissa B says:

    Sounding like this is a pain in the rear that should be prevented. Once those physicians start having perforations from patients moving they won’t tolerate this change and may pay out of their own pocket. I can’t imagine this will change, but it may not be considered a third world substandard option.

  29. Daughter of a Mother who died of Colon Cancer says:

    My mother who passed away from colon cancer w/mets to the lung and spine had a family history of
    with a sister who also had a primary site of colon cancer.

    She experienced her first colonoscopy without enough sedation and told stories of being totally humiliated by the physician, which is why she never had another one until it was too late. She experienced some telling symptoms of the disease but did not follow up on until it was Stage III out of fear, which in todays world of health care is beyond my belief. After the diagnosis she lived 5 years but died a death I would not wish on anyone.

    I, as well as my sister, continue to receive our colonoscopies as scheduled but truly do not believe I will do so without sedation. I agree let the physicians experience first hand this procedure without sedation and see what they say……………………………

  30. Joyce says:

    I have to say that I have had several colonoscopies and have always had sedation. I had one sigmoidoscopy without sedation and it was very painful. After that I told the MD that I did not want to know anything until that went on until I was awake and he could then explain any problems. He never had a problem with that.

    Maybe that doctor in California needs someone to perform a colonscopy on him without any sedation and see how he feels. The nursing shortage is not so bad that the hospital cannot allow him two nurses in the room with him while he does colonoscopies. He can give the Versed himself for that matter and would only need one nurse. For that matter, my doctor takes his own staff with him when he does colonoscopies. He does not expect the hospital to provide him with nurses.

  31. Stephen says:

    I have had a number of colonoscopys since I was diagnosed with stage 3 colorectal cancer. I have had the procedure with and without sedation. I didnt find the procedure as bad as some people are describing.

  32. MCKean says:

    Pain medication can and should be given. Versed, however, is not a pain killer, but a memory blocking drug. It is used not only to block your memory of the pain, rather than your not suffering the pain to begin with, but is used so they can do things to you that you did not consent to their doing. Such, as a team of students performing rectal exams, or a intern taking the place of the physician you thought would be performing the procedure. Versed is used in the hospital for the same reason it is used in the streets, drug facilitated non-consentual penitration of intimate body parts, i.e. rape, in this case “medical rape”.

  33. Lauren says:

    Colonoscopy can and is done without sedation; the so-called “sedation” is usually with Versed, a patient-control drug that is supposied to make the patient amnesic of the procedure. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Without sedation doesn’t mean without pain control; patients with high does of Versed often scream their heads off, but generally don;t remember this immediately afterwards-until they get home…then things often change. The patient who was dazed and compliant after the exam becomes hostile, angry and depressed. It goes on for months. I have had 3 colonoscopies without sedation, one ith painkiller (fentanyl) only upon demand and all were fine. You have to find a good doc to do it without sedation. The dirty little secret is that most GI docs would never get Versed; they get painkiller only or a real anesthetic: propofol. When someone tells you that they are giving you Versed to make you comfortable; it’s a lie. It’s to make their job easier, turn you into a zombie and possible make you a mental wreck.

  34. Linda says:

    Twelve years ago I had my first and only Colonoscopy. I swore I’d never have another one. I’ve never experience such pain, worse than childbirth. As this procedure was taking place I was gripping the side of the bed rail and screaming, “Jesus, Save Me!” The Dr. asked the nurse, “Is she still awake?” Obviously, he was deaf as I was screaming. She answers, “Yes, should I give her more medication?” (I did have an IV in my left arm) He said, “No, she’s had enough, we’ll be done in a few minutes.”
    I’ve suffered with many colon problems through the years, Diverticulitis, hemmroids, rectal bleeding, constipation, you name it, I’ve probably experienced it many times. Of course, I no longer go to that Dr. I have another Dr. who will give me antibodics when my white cell count is up.
    However, this year I have suffered more from colons problems and have decided to have another Colonoscopy. This time (as last time) I have been promised IV Sedation and absoutely no pain.
    This time it is also taking place in the hospital and not in the Dr.’s office.
    I can promise this, if I feel ANYTHING, I am coming off the table.
    I so wish the Dr. who tortured me twelve years ago would have to go through what he did to me.

  35. Gareth says:

    Colonoscopy is safer and quite comfortable without sedation. A patient will never get perforated if they are not sedated; this is a fact. Most of the risk of the procedure comes from sedation. Many docs seem to use sedation the the procedural amnesia as an excuse to do the colonoscopy as quickly as possible and quite roughly. Sedation is no bargain is your gastro is motivated by speed; watch a colonoscopy done by a careless gastro on a sedated patient; the poor patient moans and writhes in pain. The gastro relies on the amnesia effect of the drus (usually Versed) to get the temporarily stupefied patient out the door. Then their memory returns and the fun starts. I work in a hospital and was scared to death of this exam and colon cancer runs in my family. I had Versed for dental work once and had long-term memory damage from it; I would never consent to this drug. Check out askapatient.com for the twisted Versed story; it’s not pretty. I finally found a great gastro doc, a young woman who has seen too many patients damaged by Versed; she did my colonoscopy without drugs. She took her time (unlike most gastros) and there was no pain. Oh sure, a little gas-like pain from the air injected, but after she and her nurse encouraged me to fart, that was gone. Why anyone would consent to sedation is beyond me. I had biopsies and 3 polyps removed, got dressed and drove home.

  36. Stacy says:

    I had a colonoscopy without sedation 3 years ago, by choice. I did not want to have problems I saw happen to other people with botched up sedation. Since I was a childbirth educator, and had two natural childbirths without medication, I knew how to get through pain. Some people cannot bear any pain. I would call the colonoscopy procedure uncomfortable. I would not call it painful. People can increase pain perception through “fighting against” the sensations. If you come to terms with it as a necessary and safe procedure, that should ease the mind. I just focused on my steady breathing, watched the monitor and WALKED out of the room and drove myself home.

  37. Gary says:

    The sedation is for the doc’s benefit, not yours. Get it if you want it, I’m a pharmacist and have seen the downside of sedation; way too many people having memory loss and other issues from poorly done sedation. I avoided colonoscopy until one of the nurses whom I work with noticed that I was spending too much time in the bathroom at work (intrusive little nurse probably saved my life)….anyway I specified no sedation for my exam and the gastro doc was glad to do it that way. she talked me thru it and the hardest part was to relax and basically fart on her gloved hand as she advanced the scope. sorry for the image, but it’s true and was pretty funny at the time. leave your modesty at the door and don’t die of embarassment. get it done

  38. Lyn says:

    I had a colonoscopy without any sedation this week. I would definitely do it again. On admission the head nurse was shocked that I was having no sedation. She said, “you are what, it will be excrutiating”. Sure there was some pain but it was manageable and was only when the scope was going around corners, certainly not excrutiating. I have a fear of anaesthetics so was relieved that the doctor agreed to do it without. I was able to eat breakfast straight after and go home. The doctor removed a small polyp which was painless and I was able to watch the procedure on the screen. The nurses were amazing and encouraged me to deep breath during the painful moments.

  39. Never Again says:

    Why are you people talking about “sedation” like it’s pain killer? If you are going to be in pain, why would you want amnesia, partial or otherwise instead of pain meds? I just don’t get it. Especially when these people are TELLING YOU it’s going to be “excruciating.” Just wait until you talk to somebody (one of the 10%) who don’t get amnesia from the sedation, and find out about the inhumane torture they were exposed to under the premise that “you won’t remember us treating you like a POW in a 3rd world country.”

  40. Jerry says:

    Neveragain is right. Most of you are confusing how the drugs work. The term “sedation” is vague. Most exams are done with 2 drugs: Versed (to cause amnesia, which can be a huge long-term problem with some patients) and with a painkiller (usually fentanyl). Telling patients that Versed is “to relax you” is basically untrue; it’s given to cause amnesia and to make the patient compliant. Versed does nothing for pain and the amnesia can be long-term. If you have a decent doc, the exam is basically painless with nothing, or at most some fentanyl. The slob gastros like to zombify patients with Versed beause they can do the exam rougly and more quickly. What a way to treat people: like crap because you know that the won’t (maybe) remember the rushed procedure.

  41. GMan says:

    When I hear comments like: “I would never get a colonoscopy without sedation”, I feel sorry for those prople. Most patients get Versed (midazolam) for so-called sedation and all that drug does is to induce some degree of amnesia so that the patients don’t immediately recall that they were awake, moaning and babbling. Trouble is, fully 10% of patients don’t even get amnesia and the others who do have an excellent chance of long-term memory loss and PTSD. I practice in a teaching hospital and often take my students to the GI lab to watch colonoscopies, mainly because they need something to do, but I always thought that it would be a good idea for practitioners who would soon be ordering these tests to really see how they were done. Also, I always tried to put a positive spin on screening colonoscopy hoping that someone would see ow easy they were and acually get one themselves and save their own life. Wrong! Most of the colonoscopies that we watched were done with Versed and a significant percentage were damned horrible; patients froced to lie imobile, pleading for the doc to stop but unable to resist. Sure enough, many didn’t remember the trauma immediately afterwards, but one case sticks in my mind. One yound woman who got Versed and had a terrible colonoscopy (but didn’t remember it immediately afterwards) was seen by me 2 weeks later in clinic with one of my students and she was a basket case. Her memory of the terrible treatment that she rceived was returning and driving her nuts. She was a basket case and when she found out that we were present during her test, she begged for the truth about what had happened and why she couldn’t remember it clearly (she remembered it each night in her nightmares). When she heard the truth about her “sedation” being an amnesia drug, she went ballistic. And my student who witnessed this told me that giving Versed to a patient expecting sedation was the most unethical thing that she had ever seen. I agreed that it was unethical, but I told her to wait for her gyne surgery rotation where they let a group of students do pelvic exams on patients under anesthesia for gyne surgery…pelvic exams that have nothng to do with the surgery, just so a bunch of students can get practice. Read never again’s comments; they ring true. This Versed crap happens thousands of times every day.

  42. Edward says:

    The lack of honesty by many GI providers is inexcuseable. I recently scheduled a colonoscopy and this is how I was “consented” for versed/fentanyl: sign this so that we can give you something to make you comfy”. I was told that Versed was “just something to relax you and make you sleep” this is totally wrong; most prople who get this drug are quite awake, but forced to be imobile and unable to communicate. Some but not all have amnesia (at least until they get home). I told the nurse that I’m not consenting to an amnesia drug and she told me that “everyone does and that I had no choice because the test was so painful”. Another lie: colonoscopies can be and are done every day without drugs and they are comfortable and safer than sedated exams. A CRNA came in and offered me propofol (real sedation) and told me the truth: the GI docs “insist” on Versed because they like a patient who is forced to be compliant and it lets them do the exams more quickly; it has nothing to do with “keeping the patient comfortable” Read versed horror stories at askapatient.com and see for yourself. The doctor finally came in and insisted that “our patients never have any problems with Versed”; but one of the nurses who was within earshot said: “I call our patientsthe day after their colonoscopies and a LOT of them have had severe problems with Versed..some for many, many weeks and longer”. I told them to remove the IV and to give me my clothes. Suddenly sensing the loss of revenue if I left without the colonoscopy, the doctor finally agreed to do the exam with no drugs (in fact, he admitted that he had his own exam without drugs). When I reminded him that just 5 minutes earlier he had said the the exam was “impossible without sedation” he had no comment. I changed into street clothes as he admitted thet: “we tell patients that they have to have Versed, but it’s not really so”. As I was leaving he followed me into the waiting room and told me that I was making a mistake and asked why I wasn’t letting hin do the colonoscopy. I answered: “I’m not comfortable with you participating in my cae” he asked me for specifics and I said: “because you are a liar”.

  43. Debra says:

    I have had colonoscopies with and without sedation. Colons are extremely different. I was told by my gastroenterologist that mine was unusually difficult to work with because of twisting, and even when I was “sedated” she had a lot of difficulty completing the procedure. Against her recommendations, and because the drugs used made me so extremely ill for days (and the Versed for a few weeks), I opted to do it without sedation. I agreed that if it became unbearable, I’d let her use drugs. The only real pain comes in the going in – not going out. In my case, the twists were difficult – it took multiple attempts and various positions to get the scope through. I did have very severe cramps at that part. But these are relatively brief in duration, and the nurse coached me to used Lamaze style breaths, which helped a lot. The painful part was less than 10 minutes. For me, I much prefered the procedure without sedation and the doctor was actually more successful because she had my conscious cooperation (and apparently under drugs I thrashed around and screamed, so they had to give me maximum doses, which is why I was so extremely sick afterwards). I enjoyed getting to watch the procedure as well. I realize I am a very pain tolerant person when conscious – I’ve dealt with a lot of pain and have learned techniques to endure it. Many Americans haven’t. I also know from my own experience that the twistier your colon, the more pain there is. (Men generally have easier procedures than women.) I respect people who desire sedation, but I think a lot of people would be surprised at the advantages of not having it at all. If you have a good doctor and supportive nurse, you can get through it and have much faster recovery. Also, I think because Versed doesn’t reduce pain, the pain if you wake up is actually much worse than if you are conscious and working with the nurse to get past it. My physician was genuinely surprised how well I did and I think for people like me who tend to have bad drug reactions, non-sedation is the way to go. That said – the important thing is to offer choice. I wouldn’t want people who are out to save money being the determining factor of whether we use sedation or not. Many people will avoid the procedure without sedation, and we will lose lives. Doctors need to be educated about the benefits of non-sedation for patients like me, and politicians need to respect the need for people who need it.

  44. Mike says:

    I’m 38 and have family history of Colon Cancer. I have had two colonscopys, the first one sedated and the second two weeks ago unsedated. I found that with sedation I was depress and had a slow week, I could remember a lot of the colonscopy as I only had the minimum of drugs.

    For no sedation colonscopy I asked if it was possible and the doctor said it was, I had a IV (canular) in my hand ready just in case. The clinic had not done a no sedation coloncopy for a long time, but were happy if I was happy. There was some reason discomfort once they started pumping in the Co2, and this came and went. I was able to see the camera on the video and could feel the water jet spraying inside. It only took 10 or so minutes and at times it hurt a bit (much less than the dentist cleaning my teeth a year back), enough that I did not want to talk to the nurses anyway. They monitored my heart rate and said that it went quite high to start with and had lowered after 5 minutes. I was able to talk to nurse ok during most of the colonscopy. We talked about what was on the TV screen and generally had a good time. I must be clear that I’m a 38 year old man with no colon problems and was only been checked. I have a typical Colon with no extra twists and no conditions that would make it more painful. I feel that if you are happy to give it a try and your are only getting checked due to family history then CONSIDER no sedation, but ensure the IV (canular) is fitted so you can get meds if you need it. Only some people can have no meds. I know it can hurt as I have heard people screaming from the recovery room, as I have heard the same screams waiting for my dentist.

    The great thing about no meds is that I had the rest of the day off and was able to enjoy my day and also left the recovery room only 30 minutes after the colonscopy.

    I live in New Zealand and all costs are state funded, meds or not.

  45. PM says:

    I would never have a colonoscopy without sedation. I was sexually traumatized in my childhood and still suffer from panic attacks. I suffer from GAD ( generalized anxiety disorder ). It would put me in extreme danger if I were to experience a panic attack during the procedure. Whoever thought a colonoscopy without sedation is a good idea should have a tree trunk shoved up their ass.

  46. Gary says:

    I just had a colonoscopy, my second. The first time, 4 yrs ago there was no pain during, due to sedation, and no pain after. After my most recent colonoscopy I noticed that I was having a hard time getting rid of the air that they pump in causing me abdominal pain. When I talked to the doc he informed me that the procedure took an additional half hour because my colon was twisted and he had a hard time getting the scope though my colon. After I got home I still had a lot of pain, more blood than normal, bloody mucus and tissue from inside my colon which came out when I felt like I needed to have a bowel movement. When I called my GI doc the same evening (Friday) of the procedure he didn’t seem too concerned. I still had no relief in pain on Monday so I went to my primary doc for a second opinion. After pressing on my abdomin and listening to my tummy she sent me for a CT Scan to rule out a punctured colon. Luckily there was no puncture. Now 5 days after the procedure I am still in pain and have trouble passing gas as well as frequent urination which seems to be caused from the gas pressure. I follow up with the GI doc today and plan to ask him why he forced the scope into the twist if he was having such dificulty. I’ve read many stories where the procedure was halted because of this problem, which is what I would have prefered. Needless to say I will never have another colonoscopy with or without sedation unless they can first confirm that my colon is not twisted and the procedure will be as easy as my first one. If I did have a choice of sedation I would opt for total sedation so that I do not suffer during the procedure and the doc can do what is needed after advising them that if they’re going to rip up my insides abort the procedure before doing so. I feel that sedation should be the choice of the patient since each person is different and has different pain tolerances and different colon conditions, ie twisting of same.

  47. Gary P says:

    To add to the previous post, (February 9th, 2011 at 8:45 am
    ) I saw the GI doc and it was determined that the twisted colon and difficulty of passing gas is due to IBS. I was prescribed meds to help relax my colon & bowels to allow the gas to pass and releive the pressure. I still feel that to have sedation or not should be entirely up to the patient. My opion is that if sedation is the option you choose, general anesthesea is the only way to go, provided your health allows.

  48. Jane says:

    You people are confusing sedation with painkillers. Versed is not a painkiller; it is a sedative that keeps you relaxed during the procedure and makes you forget what happened. The doctor administers a second drug (Fentanyl or Meperidine) to control the pain. So whether or not you get Versed has nothing to do with your level of pain (though it would make you forget if you were given inadequate pain medication during the procedure).

  49. Paul says:

    I am 51 and had my first colonoscopy 10 years ago with sedation and hated the way it made me feel afterwards (actually the sedation made me sick). I had a colonoscopy without sedation 2 weeks ago and it was a breeze. There was some pressure once they reached the end of my colon, but nothing that I would say is painful. The doctor was pleasant and the entire process was very interesting. I will never have another one with sedation.

  50. Kristin says:

    All I can say is, I received a mild sedation while getting a colonoscopy a week ago and still cried the entire time. I was in so much pain, I ended up throwing up on the nurse. I have a high pain threshold and was not nervous to begin with because my family has a history of colon cancer so I talked to a lot of them that had one before, all said it was relatively painless. I guess looking back on it, all the people I talked to were women and they all have children, so relative to childbirth, I guess it would be painless. I have never gone through childbirth, so relatively, it was the most painful experience of my life and I still feel traumatized by the experience.

  51. Danni says:

    I read all of the comments here before I went in for my colonoscopy. I took the advice of letting the nurse put in a saline lock in case I needed pain relief but I was able to get through the entire colonoscopy without any meds. I am a 53 year old woman who had a hysterectomy and that apparently increases the difficulty of the procedure. Well, all of the nurses were rather shocked that I was doing this without any meds. I was told me that I had a high pain threshold. I don’t know about that since I was a total wuss during the birth of my daughter. Anyhow, back to the colonoscopy… I felt absolutely nothing until the first corner where the doctor had to pull back a few times to straighten out my bowel. That part was more uncomfortable than painful. I did have to take a few deep breaths but the sensation only lasted a second or two. The next corner was a lot easier and it was a piece of cake from there on. I went home immediately after the procedure with no issues. Would I do it again? Absolutely in a heart beat! Being lucid, not fuzzy and in control was worth the few twinges I got during the procedure. In terms of choices, I think you need to decide what is best for yourself and for me, doing this without meds was the right thing.

  52. Shireley says:

    I am facing my second colonoscopy Monday and I will do this one as the first without medication. Was it painful. Sure. Then did I need drugs, No. As I realized that the pain is short lived and just went with the waves of cramps. I would rather watch than be drugged. It is such a short duration. Then I can walk out of there and not go through the drugged feeling which is more important to me.

  53. Brenda says:

    I had a colonoscopy 3/28/2014 and I will be horrified of doctors and hospitals the rest of my life. as the nurse said are you ready for your nap I said bring it on. After all I had one of these in 2010 and they found pre cancer with no problems . A few minutes later I noticed I could still see I was awake but could not talk. after about five minutes I found my voice and was screaming take it out your cutting me they wouldn’t stop they told me calm done I screamed more and started getting up they held me down as I screamed. finally I herd doctor say oh shit give her some. I’m here to tell you I have had three children with nothing. but this colonoscopy was the most horrific pain I ever had in my life. Never again even if the biopsies say cancer. never again unless they promise in writing I will be put under and kept under. this should be illegal to treat a person like this. There was no warning they were not gonna put me under. If I or you were to put someone on the street in this type of pain we would be put in jail forever. It’s nothing more then RAPE. these doctors and hospitals that do this to people should lose their rights to surgery of any kind. It’s been less then 24 hrs and I have already had nightmares. woke up unable to breath soaking wet. How do they call this a colonoscopy. it should be called RAPE.

  54. advancepracticenurse says:

    I’m shocked but not suprized at the above comment; another patient mislead into consenting to Versed (midazolam) and promised “sedation or a nap” and given a drug that forces them to lie there in pain unable to respond or speak…then the so-called “providers” rely on the amnestic effect (temporary at best-until the patient gets home) of Versed to “justify” this patient abuse. I am shocked that the above patient was so mistreated…but if you consent to Versed it’s pretty much going to happen

  55. Joni says:

    I am a 53 year old woman and just underwent my first colonoscopy earlier this week. I was relaxed and understanding of the procedure going in and requested very light – if any- sedation as it has made me nauseated in the past. The anesthesiologist was great about accommodating my request and said that she would monitor my blood pressure and heart rate and administer something only if I began showing stress. There was NO pain, mild discomfort initially and a slight cramping when the Dr. “turned a corner”, which he warned me about before each instance (3 x). I got to watch the camera’s path onscreen and found it very interesting. My Dr. was wonderful about explaining everything we were looking at. He found 3 small and one larger (pea-sized) polyp which he removed as he went. I could not feel the removal (a wire hoop that cauterizes as it pinches) at all. I would encourage anyone who is not a fan of full or partial sedation to consider this option. I do think the key to this procedure being as unpleasant as possible is to be informed and to try to relax. It really was no big deal!

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