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Sedation for colonoscopy

Posts: 11
Joined: Apr 2017

Hi everyone.  I have posted my story before but wanted to mention it again to see if there is anyone else who has inputl.

I was diagnosed with stage 1 colon cancer in September 2016. I had 23 lymph nodes removed and all of them were clear, and I also had a CT in March that was good. In addition, so far all my bloodwork has been good.  However, I am concerned that my CEA level, which has gone from 1.5 day of surgery to 0.3 after surgery, and then to 0.5, 0.6 and 0.7.  I am due for more blood in August so hopefully my CEA will not go up.

My question to everyone is about sedation during colonoscopies.  My follow up colonoscopy is due in September but I decided to get it done this month (July).  I am really scared of the sedation used for the procedure.  I really want to see what is going on and do not want to use Propofol which require an anatheisolgist.  Has anyone here ever done it without any sedation? The reason why I am so scared is because I had a robotic resection and was under for more that 7 hours.  I ened up in ICU from hypothermia and my vision was blurry for two days after.  Ten years ago, I did have a colonoscopy without sedation but the doctor was super fast and not very nice.  I was in a lot of pain but I feel if he would of been slower and more gentle I could have possibly handled it. Now, since one foot of my sigmoid colon is gone, it may be easier without as much pain.  My doctor told me he could try without it, and then if it gets too bad they can do conscious sedation.  Or I could use the same anathesialogist that I used for the surgery which would be Propofol.

Any advice?



JanJan63's picture
Posts: 2482
Joined: Sep 2014

The sedation for a colonoscopy is not as deep as the one for surgery. You won't remember it but you come out of it really quickly. On the other hand, my husband had one without and he said it was nothing. I've heard that from many other people, too.


Trubrit's picture
Posts: 5453
Joined: Jan 2013

I have had mine done with no sedation and, while it was not horrendous, it was not comfortable either.  The actual scope isn't so bad, if the Doctor is careful, but they do pump gas/air into your stomach that pushes other organs aside and makes for easier scoping, and that can get very uncomfortable. Maybe men, who don't have a Uterus, have it easier, I don't know; but for me, it was quite uncomfortable, but not agonising. 

Propofol is not general anesthetic, and I would definitely opt for that with my next colonoscopy. 

Good luck in July. 


Tunadog's picture
Posts: 235
Joined: Mar 2017

I was told they can do a more thorough job if you are sedated.

I was sedated.

Best of Luck 

Annabelle41415's picture
Posts: 6709
Joined: Feb 2009

The first scope was with the twilight medication and that didn't work at all so being awake for the whole thing wasn't pleasant for me.  My last scope was just done on Tuesday and they used profolol and it was wonderful.  Didn't feel anything and from arriving to leaving was less than two hours.  It is definitely the way to go.  Hope you have a better experience this time.


ThomasH's picture
Posts: 104
Joined: Jun 2016

While my experience without sedation wasn't horrible, it was certainly uncomfortable. Given the choice between having it or not having it, I am solidly on the "Having Sedation" side. 

My side effects were virtually non-existent, and there is absolutely nothing about having a scope that I'm interested in remembering.


Betsydoglover's picture
Posts: 1256
Joined: Jul 2005

Propofol is great - you are sedated very quickly and the recovery is very smooth. You come to and feel perfectly normal.  It is nothing like general anesthesia - in fact they often use propofol for induction prior to general anesthesia.  It really is the best way to go.

Posts: 274
Joined: Dec 2013

I've gone through the last two colonoscopies fully awake.  Would I do it for the next one again?  Hard to say.  As some have stated, it does get uncomfortable when the scope goes in and the doc pumps your colon full of air.  I also had a moment of pain/discomfort when the doc had to snake the scope around a bend in my colon.  So all of the above are reasons to be knocked out.  But I do like the fact I can talk to my GI about what he and I are seeing on the screen which of course requires you to be awake.  And with the crummy insurance I currently have through my employer, I save a little bit of money not needing an anesthesiologist.

abrub's picture
Posts: 2166
Joined: Mar 2010

But my dr let me go in with the understanding that we'd only use it if I felt I needed it.  I was fine without

Posts: 11
Joined: Apr 2017

Thanks for all the advice on the sedation.  I told the doctor that I would go with conscious sedation using versed and fentanyl but I am having second thoughts.  I just dont want to use any drugs that will impair my memory and for some reason I am so scared they are going to overdose me.  I want to see for myself what is going on in my colon.  My doctor did tell me he can try without and if I need something they can give it to me.  Maybe since my sigmoid part of my colon is gone there might not be so many turns and less pain.

Posts: 274
Joined: Dec 2013

Yes, they can add any type of sedation during the procedure if needed.  I still had the option to go full sedation as they still started an IV on me; that and to hydrate me due to the prep and not drinking/eating prior.

Not to scare you, I still had discomfort with my last colonoscopy even with no ascending and descending colon.

Posts: 1282
Joined: Apr 2012

I asked for no nockout.  But I don't remember the scope going in.  However I did see the screen as he was withdrawing the scope. Some discomfort, but worth it to see the results!!

Posts: 214
Joined: Jul 2017

I had two done, one for the biopsy and one to clean out the colon. Both with Propofil - greatest stuff in the world. You're out in ten seconds and wake up in recovery remembering absolutely nothing. I was up and around in 30 minutes and drove home (though you're not supposed to do that).

beaumontdave's picture
Posts: 1146
Joined: Aug 2013

I suppose you could just have a lighter sedation, say a valium. Ask them about optional meds.......................................................Dave


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