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What Is Colonoscopy Sedation?

Sedation helps patients communicate but remain comfortable while a physician inserts a special camera.
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  • Written By: Alicia Sparks
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 19 March 2014
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Colonoscopy sedation is sedation during a colonoscopy. Typically, colonoscopy sedation is conscious sedation, which means the patient is still alert enough to communicate with the doctor but relaxed enough to experience minimal or no discomfort. The kinds of sedation medications used to achieve conscious sedation will depend on the patient and doctor, but usually medications meant to manage pain and relax the patient are used. Like many medications, sedation medications do present certain side effects and the doctor should discuss these side effects with the patient. If the patient prefers, he can request alternative relaxation methods during the procedure or even a no-sedation colonoscopy.

Generally, doctors use two kinds of medications to achieve conscious sedation for colonoscopy. The first medication manages pain, while the second medication works to relax the patient and possibly help him forget, or at least not remember clearly, the colonoscopy procedure. The exact sedation medications used for colonoscopy sedation vary depending on the patient and doctor. The doctor and patient should discuss the different kinds of sedation medications, including the side effects of and any allergies to each medication. Depending on the medications and the patient and doctor, the two might discuss alternative methods for achieving relaxation and pain management.

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The most common kinds of sedation side effects of colonoscopy sedation include memory loss, grogginess or sleepiness, lightheadedness, and difficulty standing or walking without assistance. Some patients experience hallucinations ranging from mild to vivid, and nausea and vomiting. It is for these reasons patients should not drive or operate any machinery for a certain period of time following the procedure, usually 24 hours. More serious sedation side effects include allergic reactions, difficulty breathing, and dangerously increased or decreased blood pressure and heart rate. The patient’s doctor will speak with him about allergies and any past negative reactions to medications before choosing the best sedation for colonoscopy.

Although it is not as common as having colonoscopy sedation, some patients choose to have a no-sedation colonoscopy. A no-sedation colonoscopy is the same procedure, but without the sedation medications. A patient might choose a no-sedation colonoscopy for a number of reasons. For example, he might be allergic to the medications necessary for conscious sedation, or he might prefer alternative measures, such as hypnosis, to mainstream Western medicine. Before choosing to avoid sedation medications, the patient should discuss with his doctor the risks and benefits of all methods.

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Discuss this Article

anon315098
Post 4

Please check online for many credible patient horror stories. All too often, Versed is given to render a patient unable to communicate or to resist a procedure. Versed is hardly "sedation" and it's a horrible drug and most people get the Versed/fentanyl combo. It's patient abuse.

davet1081
Post 3

I've opted for no sedation, Fentenyl on-hand only if I request. I discussed it with my GI at my initial appointment, so I won't be signing sedation consent if presented with one.

I don't want more meds than I need, and sedation drugs (midazolam/ Versed) do nothing for pain anyhow. It's a simple procedure, and I'd rather witness everything they're doing to me, remember it, and lucidly request/demand additional pain meds if need be (or stop the exam entirely if they can't reduce pain - my right). Better to be safe than risk being in pain,unable to move/communicate, and have my demands to stop ignored because I'm not credible under sedation and they know I won't remember it anyway.

I don't want just the memory of pain removed; I don't want to experience pain at all. Pain drugs only - no Versed or anesthesia, unless they need to cut me open.

anon150081
Post 1

I would refuse midazolam (Versed) for any procedure. Too many cases of long-term memory loss.

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