Colonoscopy: To sedate or not to sedate?

There are people who take colonoscopy without sedation. Not everyone has a good experience.

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April 8, 2020 - 10:20 AM

Dear Dr. Roach: After reading your recent column on sedation during colonoscopy, I wanted to mention that I have asked for no sedation during two colonoscopies in the past several years. I did this after reading an article in the newspaper. People commented with replies, many of which were of the “don’t bother with sedation” approach.  Posters included doctors, nurses and patients.

Dr. Keith Roach

I felt fine without any discomfort. Yes, I had moments that indeed felt somewhat like gas, but no pain, just some “pressure.” Benefits to no sedation included no aftereffect from drugs. I drove home from the procedure both times myself. I also had no anesthesiologist fees, which can cost more than the procedure in some cases. Finally, I am an interested patient, and I was able to view the procedure on the monitor while my doctor gladly commented and answered questions. I was offered a set of headphones and dark glasses if I wanted, but again, I was interested in knowing the medical details.

As a side note, I saw a study that determined that the longer the time taken during the inspection for polyps, the more that were found (fairly obvious, I guess).  But I believe that when the patient is conscious, the doctor may tend to take more time, especially around turns, and may in fact take more time inspecting folds and creases. — D.S.

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