Skip to content
in this discussion +97 following
Guest Guest

Painful colonoscopy

Having had many operations in the past plus chemotherapy I can say without any hesitation that my colonoscopy carried out at Nottingham City Hospital was the most painful experience I have ever endured. It was sheer agony throughout and even though I wrote to complain afterwards the only response was \"that I had the correct amount of sedative-3mg. of Midazolam and I did not complain at the time.\" If they treated animals in this manner they would be sued for cruelty.Finally my friend who lives in Bournemouth has had to colonoscopies in the past both done under general anaesthetic. So why can't every hospital offer this alternative?

445 Replies

  • Guest Guest

    I was talking to a friend yesterday who has recently had the procedure and also said it was agony which really put me off. What makes me angry is that descriptions on websites by the \"experts\" say it is painless. Do they not listen? Is this why no-one has done anything about it? Why does one have to rely on a forum to get advice?

    I'm so sorry about your awful experience. Hope you feel better soon.

    • ruth88255 ruth88255 Guest

      Hi what a club. Colonoscopy club is . 

      On previous occasions some years ago Idid find a friend to be with me for a few hours and accepted sedation. Second occasion I requested more sedation which was granted.

      but hells bells.

      yesterday I had my third colonoscopy. I was prepared I was clean I was starving I was obedient in predations. Did my research.

      procedure might be uncomfortable. Liars. It is agony.

      the fools gave me a customer feedback form

      i filed it in negatively.

      i need to find the correct forum to change practice.

      i would never ever subject an animal to torture line this.

      humans must not be fibbed off with Entonox as a suitable alternative. It offered no relief. Within 5 or 6 minutes I was perspiring very heavily and wishing to die, ducking heavily on Entonox to no avail. Shocking. Very traumatic indeed.

      i am angry to have been mis,led. It is dishonest. Give the operator the procedure with NO sedation. Then things might change.

    • Florabunda Florabunda Guest

      I have decided to cheat utterly. I never sedate and there is always just bearable pain. I don't "advise" this - but it's a risk I have taken successfully. 2 hours away from the colonoscopy I take 3x buscopan - total 30th (over the counter) . I take 2 x50gm Tramadol and, if I have them, 4mg value. I take it with a vodka tonic. Yep. I am a v large woman 100kgs+. It's a risk - and it's worked for me. And, no interactions, no visible sedation but no screaming either.

      My risk

  • Guest Guest

    I just had a colonoscopy on Monday and, like you, I found it was absolute agony. I felt no pain when the scope went in or came out, but presumably the pain started once the scope reached the \"bends\". It was excrutiating....they had to give me more sedation, which didn't really help. I made rather a lot of noise, which I'm embarrassed about now, but I really couldn't help it. In contrast, my brother-in-law has had this procedure done four times and has never felt a thing. While I was waiting I heard a nurse comment to another patient that regarding the pain, it really depended who was on the other end of the scope. Perhaps this is the case. I was in for 25 minutes and they didn't find anything. I don't think I'll ever go back for another one.

    • michela91740 michela91740 Guest

      I had exactly the same, I had been given sedation for an endoscopy which worked very well and I literally didn't feel or remember a thing.the start of my colonoscopy was fine, more sedation was given but about five minutes in it felt like I was being punched at every " bend "... The doctor said I had a very long and bendy colon for my size. I couldn't ask for him to stop to give me a rest from pain or to be given more sedation due to the numbing sprain in my throat from the endoscopy preventing me from doing anything but emitting sound. I think I screamed enough though, and was given more medication to no avail. It seemed to last forever!

      The nurse said my experience of pain was uncommon and most people only experience mild discomfort ?!, I'm glad to see I'm not just a wuss !

    • e mavis38 e mavis38 michela91740

      Hi, I had a colonoscopy done on Tuesday 5 September 2017 and asked for a General anaesthetic, I hadn't had one done for over 15 years when I told the doctor to stop what he was doing, I couldn't stand the pain, this was with NO sedation at all.

      I suffer badly with my bowel, but had been passing blood from November last year when my GP sent me straight away to the AMU department at the hospital, this was followed up with the camera into my stomach in January, then I had a CT scan on my bowel, but the consultant said the CT scan doesn't pick up anything below 2 cms so he asked me to have a colonoscopy, I told him the experiences that I had had in the past, about 3 and said that I would be wasting theirs and my time trying to have it done while I was awake, the first time I saw him he said I couldn't have a general anaesthetic but after having the CT scan he relented and said I could have a general anaesthetic, but I might have to wait about 9 months so I said I was willing to wait.

      Glad I did have it done, I had something called angiodysplasmia which are enlarge damaged blood vessels in the colon and mine were right by the appendix area which it appears is the most common place to have them.  There is no way I would have been able to have the scope put right to that area of the colon had I been awake.  I had the most brilliant treatment having it done, the anaesthetist came to see me when I was in recovery, he told me that he had put some Fentanyl into the drip feed while I was under so I am sure they were expecting me to be in bad pain when I woke up, I was in pain with wind for over an hour, but I was able to rub my tummy to help disperse

      the pain.

      My consultant did say that he couldn't give me a general anaesthetic every time I needed it done, but when I see him next, I will tell him that there is no way I could have this procedure done if I was awake, I was under the anaesthetic for a full hour.

      don't know if its my age why they gave me the general anaesthetic, I will be 79 in November and what I had comes with age.

      So there is ways it can be done if they think you merit it, pain free.

      Hope someone reading this finds it helpful..

    • craig84609 craig84609 e mavis38

      I am surprised that they would even consider doing a full colonoscopy without sedation of some type. I would never allow it in my case. My doctor wouldn't even touch me until I was out, do to the past bad experiences that I had, even under sedation. This time I was heavily sedated and don't remember anything. Some people can handle the test without sedation, but many can't and it doesn't pay to have to do it again because the test couldn't be completed due to pain. So I can't understand why some doctors would even suggest doing it without. I had a sigmoid done and I was heavily sedated with that as well. I will not let them insert the scope unless I am out. In my case I will never have one without. It makes it much more pleasant, because the whole thing is unpleasant, so why not make it better.

    • Aitch71 Aitch71 e mavis38

      Thank you so much for your post. So glad to hear I’m not alone. I had an excruciating colonoscopy yesterday. I was screaming and had to beg the doctor to stop, which he did after only about 2 minutes.

      I had opted for no sedation but the doctor advised me to because of the notes on a previous examination which stated I had struggled. So I had sedation and it did nothing at all. I have given birth, had gallstones and subsequent gallbladder surgery, had root canal work but none of that hurt as much as yesterday’s procedure. 

      On on top of that, I suffer from chronic diarrhoea, which is aggravated by not taking daily loperamide and not eating - 2 of the things I had to do to prepare for the colonoscopy. At 8pm after the procedure, I was still having watery/bile motions. Clearly this process is not for me! 

      My concern now is that my notes will read that I am a bit of baby, when in fact it felt like I was inflamed and I was being disembowelled! 😢

  • Guest Guest

    My wife has had two colonoscopies at the same hospital. Both were terminated part way through because she was crying out in pain. Her distress was despite having had substantial doses of midazolam (5mg.) and fentanyl (150micrograms).

    Recently she had occasion to get copies of her hospital notes because she needed them for treatment of an unrelated condition. Imagine our surprise and disbelief when we saw the examining doctor's reports of the two colonoscopies which said \"well tolerated\" and \"the patient tolerated the procedure well\". Those words are completely misleading and the true picture was very different.

    So beware - next time a health professional tells you that sedated colonoscopy is \"well tolerated\" that certainly doesn't mean what most of us would think it to mean.

    Needless to say my wife has since declined the invitation for a third examination!

  • Guest Guest

    Level of pain does seem to depend on who's on the other end of the scope. I have had 4 colonoscopies, 3 by my Consultant who is happens to be lead endoscopist at the hospital, they were uncomfortable but not agony and I was always back to normal next day, however the last one, 3 weeks ago was a different story. It was done by an ederly Dr who I have never seen before, he was dithering about beforehand and during the procedure kept asking the nurse were abouts she thought the scope was !!! He was definately being a bit rough and although I had Pethadine and Midazolam it didn't seem to do much this time. It was a week before I felt I was over it. I shall have words with my Consultant next time I see him and will only have my next one done if I know he will be doing the driving ! :?

  • Guest Guest

    Jillian, you certainly must know a lot about pain from past experiences.

    I have had 9 colonoscopies including a perforation of the colon during no. 2. which led to an emergency operation when they sliced me open to repair the damage, in a hurry!

    The first 7 were not too painful, the 8th was very painful and the 9th was extremely painful. Why? Well, I have been studying this subject and have been in correspondence with my consultant. It appears that someone in the system has got the wind up about deaths arising from sedations during colonoscopies among the elderly. The British Society of Gerentologists website has a lot to say about it.

    However, no one says anything about patient welfare, and I believe that is influenced by cost! The costs of drugs and anaesthetist for deep sedations and general anaesthetics. You won't get a general anaesthetic on the NHS for a colonoscopy, but you will if they poke a hole in your colon while they are having a look.

  • Guest Guest

    I had a Colonoscopy today and I'm afraid to report it VERY much hurt - not agony but at moments not far off (especially when they went round the bends)! I appear to be immune to the effects of Midazolam and Pethidine (even though I was given a high amount IV). I was wide awake all the way through and straight after could leave the hospital and walked the 3 miles home! I think this is unusual though so [b:16b3019684]don't worry cause 99 per cent of people cannot feel a thing and say it was a breeze [/b:16b3019684](probably cause the sedation works)! I was just unlucky I guess but assumed this procedure would be 'a walk in the park' so had no fear whatsoever before (how wrong was I). I went to a top private London hospital so I could call the shots but in future (I pray there will not be another time) I will be asking for a full General Anesthetic - or a virtual colonoscopy. I was lucky cause they found nothing and although I still feel traumatized - I am very grateful I had the colonoscopy. Having you bowel removed later due to missed cancer (maybe even loosing your life) would be a lot more traumatic and puts this all into context. Remember 99 per cent of people feel and remember nothing.

  • Guest Guest

    I'm an experienced colonoscopist and can sympathise with the comments about previous colonoscopies. Pain during colonoscopy is usually due to looping of the instrument which stretches the bowel and it's attachments. The amount of sedation doesn't determine whether the scope will loop or not. Essentially it comes down to the expertise (and training) of the individual colonoscopist and there is unfortunately huge variation. Most units now collect data on caecal intubation (whether the colonoscopist gets all the way round the colon, should be more than 90%) and some units also collect data on \"comfort scores\"- this isn't available to Joe Public but individual colonoscopists should know it- try asking! How should an individual waiting for a colon deal with this? Tricky particularly as you don't want to upset the doctor about to perform the procedure but if it is hurting a lot ask them to stop (it is usual to experience minor discomfort)- giving more sedation isn't necessarily the answer and giving too much can be dangerous, particularly in those over the age of 70. Hope this helps!

    • andrea26608 andrea26608 Guest

      your comments are helpful! Can I ask you why the hospital I attended informed me sedation and pain killers were not given for this procedure? This was dispite the fact that I'd been given sedation in the same hospital 3 months earlier for the same procedure. Is it down to hospital policy or down to the individual. Colonospicast? Also could you tell me what a floppy bowel is? I would be very grateful for a reply. By the way I'm in my late 60s and wondered if this has a bearing on my case. Thanks in anticipation.

  • Gigi24 Gigi24

    Hi, Just had a colonoscopy today and I have to say that I found it only uncomfortable when he seemed to go around the bends. I took extra gas and air but beside that it was pretty interesting. I was suprised to see that the doctor had written that I had tolerated the procedure with difficulty. I guest they see so many people they must have a good idea of good tolerance to really not being able to tolerate. Well i gave myself 10 out of 10.

  • Tough_bird Tough_bird

    I had my 3rd colonoscopy today. And it was very tramatic. The first 2 I had some years ago where uncomfortable with mild pain. but today was very painful, I was given sedation which relaxed me slightly to begin with. I think it was when the scope reached the bends, it was excruciating! I was calling out in agony I was told it shouldnt hurt that much and maybe im not relaxed enough, I had the gas and air and I moved onto my back which was a bit more comfortable, but again certain areas were very painful. I felt as though I was immune to the sedation drug, because I can remember absolutely everything. The doctor seemed genuine in telling me he was sorry I found it so painful. He said that maybe I fought against the drug by being so worked up that it didnt work. I felt embarassed and tearful once it was over and could not wait to get out of there.

  • Tough_bird Tough_bird

    just to add, I was up dressed and ready to go, 15mins after the procedure, thats how 'sedated' I was!

    • craig84609 craig84609 Tough_bird

      I had the same issue and it isn't you it is the dumb dumb doing the test. They need to make sure you are ok and not in pain. I fired my last doctor that made me hurt. I told her that I needed more pain medicine and she just replied no we are almost done, well that went on for another ten minutes or so and I was so angry after I yelled at my doctor and nearly tore the IV out to get out of there. My new doctor is very careful and will not touch me in any way until I am out totally, as I have had two really bad colonoscopies done. Funny thing they were both at the same clinic. My entire family went there and now only one member still goes there. They all left because of my experience. Doctors need to pay attention to this or they risk losing patients.

  • Easthope Easthope

    Having just returned from my own colonoscopy today I am so relieved to find others have had similar experiences to me.It was such agony my bowel went into spasm and it became too difficult to complete the procedure. I too will not undergo another without more effective pain relief.

  • bowmsy bowmsy

    I too got a colonoscopy, and having a high pain thresh hold, and thinking I would be getting sufficiant pain relief I wasn't worried, how wrong was I , the pain was torture, I saw it through as to stop it would mean doing it again, not a chance, once bitten, not a word though about it from the medical staff as far as they are concerned it's nothing, I really think they skimmed on the sedation so much because it had no effect and I remeber the lot, I'd like to see them go through with it with the same sedation they gave me, it's out ragious that people have to go through this or risk leaving themselve open to getting cancer, or other life threating things, they know this so don't feel they have to change the way this is given.

  • JoHutchings JoHutchings

    It obviously has not changed much then as I too had one last week and it was agony and I stopped them. I was given sedation and another lot but I did not feel any different, but after about half an hour when I was on the way home in the car I fell asleep. When home I went to bed and slpt for 4 hours my husband kept coming and looking at me to check I was breathing!

    I had discomfort for about 3 days after as well and I am not a wimp and hardly ever take painkillers, I had a knee replacement with spinal block and light sedation and it was a breeze nothing like what I suffered last week. The nurse did tell me that could be more *uncomfortable* if you have had a hysterectomy (as I have) but in a scale of 1 - 10 I would say the pain was 15 and never again.

  • bzoow bzoow

    I had a colonoscopy today and it all went very well. Removed one small polyp and saw a small diverticular pocket but nothing else thankfully. Having read up on the web about the process I was keen to see and hear what was happening and also had read that in some hospitals they offered the procedure without anesthetic or pain relief. I asked my consultant about it and she said we could try and that I could have the anesthetic/pain relief if I felt I needed it during the procedure.

    There was no pain until she started into the transverse colon (I guess around 18 inches in) then there was a fairly severe stomach cramping which did make me wince. I guess this happened a few more times during the procedure but overall it was tolerable and made much better by the fact that I saw the entire process on video and could talk to the consultant throughout. She had me move from my side to my back with one leg up a couple of times to ease the process. She got all the way to the caecum and moved back and forth a few times to check all was clear.

    I would not hesitate to ask to not have anesthetic and pain relief again, however having read the above posts maybe I was lucky with the operator even though it was in an NHS hospital that has been recently slated.

    Being able to feel part of the procedure and see what the doc was seeing gave me confidence that the results were OK and also walking out of the hospital feeling fine (except for the wind!) was great.

    • susan13348 susan13348 bzoow

      I think you are in the minority. Mine was so painful I literally wanted to die. Having a baby, ripping all the tissue in your lower back and having fillings without lignacain are a breeze compared to a colonoscopy. Hell will freeze over before I have another one!

  • bzoow bzoow

    Must add that the weirdest feeling was when the doc irrigated the colon to see better and I could feel a cold sensation coming from inside!

  • envcityjc envcityjc

    I had my first and hopefully last colonoscopy yesterday and can say it was the most painful experience of my life so far. I suffer from severe all over body muscle cramps and believe me, those are excruciating but the colonoscopy was much worse. The staff nurse had told me I may suffer a little discomfort. LOL!! Oh yeah,you don't say? I was in agony. Although only for about 5 minutes it was sheer hell and the prep talk didn't go any where near to describe the level of pain possible. Judging by the post here it seems it may be about time they came clean about the possible pain. I had the usual peth and midaz mix and honestly think I was immune. I was fully able immediately after the procedure and despite warnings to the contrary felt fine to drive home. I didn't, but am confident I could have without difficulty and was discharged 10 minutes after the procedure. As for any future Colonoscopy examinations... Stick em up your A..E! No Thank You.

  • envcityjc envcityjc

    In Reply to House: 'The dazzle / pain relief only seems to start working after the flipping thing is over '

    Perhaps true but for me it didn't seem to work at all but yes, they gave me the meds only seconds before the procedure whilst on the op table so there wasn't really any time for them to get to work. The nursing staff descibed the days schedule as a conveyor belt system. I really do believe that I'd have had better treatment if I'd stuck my Ass in the air on the Argos conveyor belt!

  • fruitloverlady fruitloverlady

    Really? A painful colonoscopy? Sorry, but my dad also had his colonoscopy before but he said he doesn't feel any pain after. Or was it because he was being sedated when the procedure happened? I'm not sure though. But I think colonoscopy shouldn't be painful unless the one who did it doesn't really know how to do it properly?

    • sailawaywithme sailawaywithme babs49935

      So sorry to hear that Babs.   I've had a D&C done without any anaesthesia or sedation, an upper endoscopy without any sedation.    They weren't pleasant, but absolutely nothing like my colonoscopy today.   It was just awful.   I did ask at one point if she could just stop for a minute.   She was telling the nurses to move me this way, that way, whilst I was in horrendous pain.   I was so terribly disappointed at the whole procedure.   I was led to believe that it would be painless and I wouldn't even remember it.

    • susan13348 susan13348 fruitloverlady

      The sedation and pain relief they gave me lasted exactly 4 minutes!!!!. I know because I have a copy of the report and it states time went in and time went out. As they were still just going right past rectum when I woke up and then watched everything on screen and the worst pain I have ever experienced in my life. When I went back to the ward I wanted to get dressed straightaway and go home, that's how much I was sedated! I was as bright as a button. It was the worst experience of my life and I will never have another one.


Report as inappropriate

Thanks for your help!

We want the forums to be a useful resource for our users but it is important to remember that the forums are not moderated or reviewed by doctors and so you should not rely on opinions or advice given by other users in respect of any healthcare matters. Always speak to your doctor before acting and in cases of emergency seek appropriate medical assistance immediately. Use of the forums is subject to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy and steps will be taken to remove posts identified as being in breach of those terms.