My colonoscopy at The Royal London Hospital

Posted , 7 users are following.

I had a colonoscopy at the hospital yesterday.

I would like to mention the amazing team of nurses that this department has. They were since the beginning, during the procedure and after it, absolutely caring, professional, compassionate and helpful. The main responsible of this department should congratulate them and the doctors should be proud of the team of nurses they are working with.

The doctor, however, was very cold and distant since the beginning. I asked for the sedation and seemed that the doctor was not very happy with this decision at all. (I right that, undoubtedly, the patient has).

Before the procedure the doctor put a cannula in my hand and injected some of the sedation. I felt slightly relaxed, but I think that this “sedation” its more a placebo than a proper sedation itself. I felt every single thing during the colonoscopy. I asked for more sedation and they applied more, but it was like nothing at all. The sedation gives you a feeling of relaxation but it doesn't avoid the pain at all. At one point the pain was absolutely unbearable and I asked the physician to stop several times but the doctor didn’t. (Before the procedure I was told that I was in my right to stop the procedure any time if the pain was unbearable… so I do not know what part of my sentence this doctor didn’t understand. I think this is enough reason for a formal complain, I took the name and surname of the doctor so I’m thinking seriously about it).

Not to mention the comment of the doctor regarding the monitor. Basically the monitor wasn’t working properly and the doctor couldn’t see some areas of the colon as it was too dark. As A patient is normal, I guess after hearing that, to have the doubt if the procedure was properly done, missing maybe important areas that hasn’t been check.

In the recovery room and still experiencing a terrible pain, the doctor passed by my bed a few times and not even a comment. As the pain was still there after a while I nurse asked to the doctor to come and see me. The physician seemed to be bothered by that (the expression in the face was very clear), and explained to me the whole procedure that was done, the problem with the not clear images of the monitor, the biopsies taken etc…. Not a word about why the doctor didn’t stop when I asked for that, not a nice word about how are you feeling…nothing. And in the same cold, distant and apparently bothered way, the doctor left the recovery area.

Just the nurses took good care of me and made my, so far unfortunate journey, more bearable.

We are in 2014 and the colonoscopy its a procedure that can be absolutely painless with appropriate sedatives. It would make the patient's journey easier and obviously the work of the physician too. In other hospitals and clinics in the UK this procedure is painless (I know people who have had a colonoscopy painless as they were basically asleep during the procedure and they can’t even remember anything during it….lucky them…). But not just in he UK. The rest of the countries in the UE (and probably in the rest of the globe) They have understand that this procedure can be absolutely unbearable and the main rule for it is avoid the suffering to the patient.

So, I’m wondering myself why at the Royal London Hospital the patients have to go through this torture. It is because maybe it would be a big expense for the department? (Which it would), or its just an inexplicable lack of consideration, knowledge and compassion from this department towards the patients?

But, lets go back to my appointment with the gastroenterologist a couple of months before. During my appointment the doctor was really nice but didn’t mention a word about the sedation. If I had not asked the question, I had left the room without knowing.

It is true that I had all the information in the letter that was sent to my house with all the explanation of the procedure, its pros and cons. And they offered to me this option the day of the procedure too. But I insist, the doctor should mention it during the appointment as well. At least as a basic right of the patient.

So again I really do not understand why the sedation seems to be like a taboo.

I hope this review can help future patients and also, I truly hope that this department, which I have seen already that has amazing people working on it, read this words with understanding and compassion.

Kind Regards


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13 Replies

  • Posted

    I'm sorry to hear of your experience Anna, sadly however I think this is the norm regarding the pain. I can't for the life of me understand why patients can't be completely aneathestised (they are in Spain) I was told it was because the Dr. needed to know if it was hurting...HELLLOOOO ..It hurts. As stated before mine was aborted because although heavily sedated I felt excruciating pain and started vomiting. Blimey you can be aneathatised to have a tooth out if required. My experience was opposite to yours regarding Dr. and nurses. The after care was disgusting and that was a private hospital!
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    • Posted

      To be aneathatised for dental surgery it has to be done in a hospital.

      A G.A. is can be quite a dangerous thing and is best avoided particulary for the over 60's.

      The sedation while not stopping pain is meant to stop you remrembering it.

      The only people I hear of complaining of pain are on NG's and Forums. Every one I know had a pain free experience. I had light sedation and only twice felt sufficient pain to make me swear:-)

      If you have any elderly American friends ask how many they have had. Here you need quite severe symptoms to be referred. Insured Americans have them done on a regular basis.

      What happens if a procedure is stopped by the patient? Do they go home and pray that they don't have Poyps or worse?

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    • Posted

      Of course there are many people who don't experience what others do. Everyone's colons are different, more twists and some parts IBS. It's obvious people aren't going to come on a 'painful colonoscopy forum' to tell of there no pain experience. I don't say these things to worry people but I did think I was the only one who suffered as I did so it's good to know my experience isn't isolated
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    • Posted

      After reading varying reports on line I asked at the consultation prior to my colonoscopy about the causes of the pain people complain of. He said it is down to the air pumped into the colon and 'twisty' colons. I guess there is no way to know prior to the procedure if you have a twisty colon unless at some time you had abarium enema X-Ray at the same hospital.

      All of the friends neighbours and relatives I have spoken to did not have any pain just the feeling of the probe moving around indide.

      I have mentioned in other conversations here that there now is a Virtual Colonoscopy (CT scan) that shows  the colon and other organs in great detail but of course doe not enable them to take biopsies or remove polyps. 

      I doubt if a formal compaint to the hospital would do much good. They would just say ,That's the way it is for some people and why deeply sedate all because of the need of a small percentage..


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  • Posted

    I have a history of cancer in my family, my Dad and Brother, and as I had some problems related to my bowel they said it would be better to have the colonoscopy done at Wigan, when there they said rather blasay would you like the pain killer injection or not? I asked if it might hurt and she said most people only feel like they have wind and bloating but the old lady over there has said she will just have gasonair, and she has had it done before and with that you can go home a few minutes after the proceedure and it works the same as the injection. I agreed to have the gasonair but heard another nurse telling me the old lady had only had a part colon check done, but thought nothing about it. The test started rather abrubtly and didn't feel like he had put any lubricant on the thing as it had explained would happen somewhere I had read. I had a few breaths of the gasonair to start as per instructions and was feeling fine in myself and not worried at all, then the pain set in as he tried to get the scope around the first bad twisty bend, another man in the room said it's twisting! back it out, I was in excruciating pain as it seemed like he was forcing a house brick around my colon and not just the narrow tube, the man said again back out your twisting it, the pain eased off as he backed out a bit. The nurse said relax, I took more gasonair but it had no effect as he tried again to ram it round the top twist and he asked the man to help by pushing on my tummy on the left side and he muttered something to the doctor doing the test then shouted to him back out its all twisting again, he asked if I wanted him to continue and try again I said just get it done so he tried again and the man again told him your twisting it, back out. The Doctor said we will stop and you can have the Xray instead as you have a very twisty colon and I can't get it around the twists, that will be done in about a week, but did not say that it was the Barium enema xray which I have found out since is not the best thing to have done and that itself can have pain and problems. I do not see why they do not give you the option to be put to sleep, as some people never get relief from such as the mild gasonair or the mild relaxants. I have given birth to 4 children some with no gas n air and I know that there should not have been so much pain with the colonoscopy as I had felt, to make it worse I got cramp down my left leg which did not help the problems and pain. Hope the barium enema goes OK tommorow. 
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  • Posted

    I agree anna it should not be a painfull ecperience.

    I had a colonoscopy over a year back & i my self was in excruciating pain to the point where they had to stop.

    I am finding blood at the end of a bowel movement,it is getting heavier as each passing month,but i WILL not have another colonoscopy as it is to much pain.surely they can sedate more for us that find it very painfull to the point they have to stop?

    I wonder how many like us found it that painful & wont go back,and they may  have some thing serious?

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    • Posted

      Ask about a virtual colonoscopy (CT Scan) You still need to take the laxative and if they find something suspicious you would only then need a colonoscopy.
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  • Posted

    When I got the letter to go for a consultation with a specialist nurse before the actual exam. I decided not to go ahead.  I didn't like the thought of drinking 2 litres of fluid the day before not to mention the indignity and maybe pain of the exam.  My family talked me into going for it,  so I phoned and said o.k.I changed my mind I will go ahead.   The nursing staff were wonderful, cheery, friendly and helpful and took me through to the room where it was to be performed.  I was introduced to the doctor/consultant, who shook my hand and that was it.  No more conversation from him, as I remember.  I did have some sedation via a venflon, so maybe I have forgotten if he did speak to me.  However, I did find it painful and was given a face mask connecting me to gas and air which must have helped, because again I don't remember much.  I do know I did have some quite severe pain a couple of times, but the gas and air helped considerably. It took around 40 minutes for the exam to be completed. After being in the recovery room for about half an hour, I was given tea and biscuits, which was great, and pictures taken from the monitor of three polyps, one of which was removed. Also photographs of diverticulae.  I have clips in the place where the larger polyp was removed but I am unaware of them.  Apparently they drop off themselves when the scar heals.  I have a phone number if I have problems.  I couldn't ask for better treatment and basically the colonoscopy is a small procedure which could save your life.  It wasn't a pleasant experience, but the nursing staff helped to make it bearable. I would recommend, having it done if necessary, as I know several people who have had bowel cancer, so I am grateful I was given this opportunity of preventive measures.  Not pleasant as I say, but prevention is better than cure.  At this moment in time, I don't think I would do it again though.
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  • Posted

    I had a colonoscopy on Friday last week at a Dorset hospital and was given Medazolam IV and Buscopan IV but no Fentanyl.  I agree with all you have said about your own hospital, the nursing staff were lovely and supportive but the pain was unbelievable without real pain relief. 

    I know I didn't feel that sedated as they don't use that much sedation anymore for this procedure as it was found to cause problems with some people with breathing and their hearts. 

    I asked the doctor doing the colonoscopy to stop about three times but she said she had nearly finished after removing a polyp but the pain was emmense.  She diagnosed that I possibly had visceral hypersensitivity afterwards but that didn't help during the procedure. 

    This hopefully doesn't happen with other people having a colonoscopy as when I had one about 18 years ago I slept most of the way through it and no real pain at all, so wasn't expecting this at all.  I now have a really sore gut and the Moviprep beforehand made me really unwell.  I cannot really consume 2 litres of water in such a short space of time.  So this wasn't a good experience for me and I wouldn't wish it upon my worst enemy.  There has to be a better way round this problem of such an invasive procedure. 

    Please anyone who is having a colostomy, don't go by my experience as you may not have a sensitive bowel and be absolutely fine and be able to have adequate pain relief.  Make sure you have everything you need.  The only good thing that came out of this whole thing is that I do not have a cancer.  Still don't know what the problem is so  may ask for an MRI scan to find out why I have this pain in my abdomen.

    Sorry you experienced such a horrible time.

    Take care


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    • Posted

      I feel for you Jenny as my experience was the same. You would think in thei day and age there would be a way for this procedure to happen without so much pain. In Spain the proceduried out un GA, here they won't do it and I can only think it is down to cost. In future I will request an MRI as although not pleasant cetainly 100% better than the colonoscopy
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    • Posted

      Thank you so much for your reply.  I am so sorry you experienced the same, I really feel for you.  As I said, I wouldn't wish that sort of pain on my worst enemy.  Yes you would think in this day and age they could do something to make it painless.  I had no problems all those years ago with the sedation and it made it much easier.  I will never have another one and will opt for a CT scan or MRI although I hate those enclosed machines as I feel so claustrophobic but far better than that pain.  I am now looking to go for an 'open' MRI scanner (you can see out the sides) but have to travel a bit to get to one.  I just wish this pain would settle somewhat so I can eat properly.  I just feel the whole colonoscopy thing has left me feeling worse off than before.  But thanks once again for your thoughts.  Much appreciated.
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