Colonoscopy WITHOUT sedation

Posted , 4 users are following.

I thought I would post because before I had this procedure I searched for experiences of people who'd had it without sedation and couldn't find any. I had the procedure this morning and I opted to forego the sedative because no one was available to collect me afterwards. So if you're considering this option it may be useful for you to hear about my experience.

First of all, I wasn't actually that nervous about the colonoscopy, I was dreading the 24 hours of no food beforehand, plus the laxatives. Both were not as bad as expected. The hunger wasn't too bad and the longer you go without food, the easier it is to bear. When my blood sugar got low I just had sugary black tea or lucozade and I was fine as long as I didn't do much activity. The laxatives weren't too awful, but as someone else suggested I recommend using baby wipes instead of toilet paper as you will be much less sore. I think I probably went to the toilet about 10 or 12 times in total, it wasn't nice but not horrendous either.

Now for the colonoscopy. Ok, it's not pleasant but you wouldn't expect it to be. It's uncomfortable having something in your bottom for that length of time (about 20 mins), and it does make you feel like you want to go to the toilet. The discomfort of the scope going through your bowel is bearable, the only bits where I winced slightly were when it was 'going round the corners'. At those points it feels like trapped wind (not painful as such, but I get a sort of urgency feeling, and can feel my stomach expanding). But the doctor apologised when he could see my discomfort and he was as careful as possible, maybe more so because I hadn't been sedated.

At times you can feel the tube moving around inside which is a bit weird. And sometimes the doctor sort of pulls it out slightly before pshing it forward again, which is uncomfortable because again it makes you feel you need to go to the loo. I tried not to think about it too much, or to prevent anything happening because it's less uncomfortable if you're not clenching. I didn't feel embarrassed because the medical staff do this all the time and you're never going to see them again anyway!

Afterwards I was passing quite a lot of air because they pump air in while they're doing it. I think they also put water in a couple of times, so you might find you need to go to the loo afterwards.

The best thing about not having the sedative is that you can eat straight away (finally!), and then go home. No waiting around or feeling groggy. So if you are unable to have sedation for whatever reason, don't worry too much. Whatever you feel you would have felt anyway, it's just that you have to use other methods to relax, like focussing on something in the room, deep breathing, talking to the nurses etc.

Do check with your doctor beforehand that they will let you have it without, because the last thing you want is to do the fasting and have the bowel prep, only to get there and find they won't do it because you have to have sedation and there's no one to collect you. Hope this helps someone.

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  • Posted

    I was very encouraged to read your experience as I am due to have my second colonoscopy shortly and am determined to have it unsedated. I had my first one four years ago and it was almost exactly as you have described. On that occasion I opted for minimum doses i.e. 50 micrograms of fentanyl and 1 milligram of midazolam plus 20 milligrams of the antispasmodic buscopan and everything was quite tolerable, just a bit of 'griping' pain at the splenic flexure which was only for a few seconds. One advantage of minimal or zero sedation is that you can take in everything you see on the video screen and hear all that is said plus you are much more likely to remember it all and what is said to you a while later when the doctor tells you the findings.

    I would just add that I am a middle aged male with no previous abdominal surgery to have caused adhesions or anything and I know that colonoscopy is easier for men than women, particularly women who have had abdominal operations.

    I will report back in due course. I think the waiting is the worst part.

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  • Posted

    26-1-2015. 10.30AM

    I have my colonoscopy check. Without Sedation. In Singapore. Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre - Private Healthcare in Singapore.

    The Process is very fast. Around 5 mins. When the scope goes in about 8 inches no feeling. Very fast, it blows air. The air goes until the end of my intestine. That is the time scamp. However, the pain still can tolerate. Then feel that the scope go till the end. The mild pain last about 30 sec. until I heard the Doctor said: your intestine is align with the scope. Then the pain was gone.

    Subsequently the doctor slower pulls the scope out. In addition, tell me everything is fine. You can have your wonderful meal now.

    The Worse part was the preparation. Two bottles of Sexlutive, which cause me, running to toilet 20 over time.

    My Message to pass down is that colonoscopy is painless. My mother can do it without Sedation when she was 80 year old. She can do it. I can do it. So do you.

    It will save life. Early detect still can be 95% curse. Do not hesitate any more. Do it early as long as you have any symptom.

    From: Tony Lee.

    50 years old


    Senior Engineer from GE measurement and control . Singapore

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  • Posted

    Oh dear I have to disagree with some of the comments here! I went for my first colonoscopy last week --I was quite relaxed as I tolerate pain well and had heard people say that there was little pain. So I decided not to bother with sedation.

    Well, what I have since learnt is that it depends partly on the shape of your colon --some are 'bendier' than others. Also on the competence of the doctor undertaking the procedure. I experienced pain the like of which I had not  experienced since childbirth. It was agony. The doctor struggled to get to the appendix area (which is the furthest they can go )--unfortunately that is where they needed to get to in my case. The tube kept looping back. They kept asking if I wanted them to stop but I was determined not to have to start all over again. Eventually a consultant was called to take over and thereafter it was rather less painful. There was no pain as the tube was removed.  I am glad they did continue as they found a lesion (hopefully benign) near the appendix which may be the cause of my condition.

    So the moral of this story is that everyone is different -there can be no generalisations. In future if I need this procedure again I will be asking for it to be carried out by an experieced doctor!!. 

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  • Posted

    You are very lucky, but you & others HAVE to know that that is NOT what it's like for EVERYBODY!! Regardless of age, sex, pain threshold etc. some people do suffer horrendous pain & the procedure has to be abandoned. These people have to know it is NOT their fault. This is also with sedation! You are one of the lucky ones.
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