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Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

31 Aug 2011 14:43

Having one soon in London does it hurt? What option do we have like being put to sleep etc? And how long does it take

Re: Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

31 Aug 2011 17:39 in response to sammy87

Hi Sammy,

I'd say a colonoscopy was more unpleasant then painful.  I found the worst part was the preparation which can vary but which in my case involoved drinking a massive amount of liquid over the course of 12 hours causing the most chronic diarrohea I've ever had.    This is to clear out the bowels.  The colonoscopy itself took probably about 15 minutes - it was painful as it went around corners - a bit like very bad wind but only lasted for a few minutes at a time.  I think some people are offered the option of a tranquilliser -  I was not and I don't think I needed one.  After the colonoscopy is over there is no pain or discomfort.

Hope this is helpful to you.

Good luck.

Jan x

Re: Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

31 Aug 2011 18:33 in response to sammy87

Hi Sammy

Everything Jan said I agree with,but I was automatically given a mild sedative as I waited for the procedure to start.

A nurse reassured me and stayed with me throughout holding my hand.The doctor explained it all and made sure I was

Comfortable.I can honestly say it was ok.

The cup of tea I had when it was over was lovely!

Please try to think of it as a way of diagnosing if there is anything wrong,and try not to worry too much.



Re: Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

31 Aug 2011 19:02 in response to sammy87

Hi Sammy

I know the first two replies are reassuring and I don't wish to spoil that and I know that everyone's experiences are different, pain levels etc, but I would have liked to have known some honest truths about it before I had mine done. I have had two - the second one was great - they gave me the maximum sedation and I didn't feel anything. The first one however, was awful for me and that was also with sedation. The reason probably was that I was really anxious, also I had a tumour so it was painful going past that and round the corners and it seemed to last a long time. Now I know that may not be helpful to you, but my advice to anyone who has asked me is if you're anxious, ask for effective levels of sedation. You can also tell them during it if it is painful or too much for you and they can top you up with sedation. Maybe if I give you my unpleasant story, you will feel relieved that yours wasn't bad at all!! At the end of the day, what's most important is that you get the reassurance and results you are hoping for. All the best. Julie xx

Re: Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

31 Aug 2011 19:47 in response to sammy87

Hi Sammy

Reading the others posts i guess it is different for different people.I have had 3 and i was out for the count and did not feel a thing.If doctors ever offer drugs for the "some discomfort" snap them up. Saying "no,no, I will be fine "is not a mistake that i will make twice.

good luck

Re: Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

31 Aug 2011 21:05 in response to sammy87

Hi Sammy, have had two, sedation given when your settled on the examination couch. You should be on your left side during the procedure, I felt a very slight discomfort only.Had a biopsy done during the first one, the second one was to remove 2 polyps (not removed at the time of the biopsy), plus 3 others that had appeared no pain and no after effects. Take the sedation, cougar69

Re: Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

31 Aug 2011 21:28 in response to sammy87

Hi Sammy

I usually have to have endoscopies (down the throat) but a few months ago had to have a colonoscopy as well.  I always ask for (and get) sedation and I would recommend this to everyone, especially if you're apprehensive about the procedure (there's no shame in that!).  When on the couch I was given sedation and pethidine (for pain) and I can say I was entirely relaxed and only felt some mild discomfort as the tube was introduced.  Staff are usually lovely and for me it seemed to be over very quickly.  When you see the nurse who clerks you in, ask for sedation if it isn't offered!

The day before is not very pleasant - make sure you have a chair outside the loo once you start taking the liquid.  It's worthwhile persevering though because if you don't have a thorough clear out you may not be well enough prepared to have the test.

You'll be fine and at least you'll have firm news about what's going on inside.

Good luck.



Re: Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

31 Aug 2011 22:40 in response to sammy87

My wife had a colonoscopy last month. The worst part was the laxative she had to drink the day before. She went so frequently to the toilet that she had a very sore behind.  She mentioned this to the doctor doing the procedure and he used local anaesthetic gel on her behind, which apparently worked very well.

Her report to me afterwards was that there was nothing to the procedure itself and if she needed to have it done again, she wouldn't worry about it. Fortunately, the results came back clear.

Re: Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

31 Aug 2011 23:16 in response to telemando

Re the laxative prep', I would definately recommend you use a cream such as zinc & castor oil or even vaseline as soon as you start going to the loo.  Don't wait until it hurts use it right from the start as you will be going for hours, you will be fine.

Re: Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

1 Sep 2011 08:48 in response to Maggiev

I know people who have opted out of sedation, but I certainly took what was on offer. The worst part of a colonoscopy is the preparation... for a funny yet fairly accurate view of what that's like, try reading this:

Re: Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep

1 Sep 2011 11:16 in response to sammy87

Thanks all I am definitely going to ask for sedation.  One thing that is worrying me is that I have read Colonoscopys are dangerous.  This is really concerning me and is making me worried about having it.  Am I allowed to be put completely asleep for it?

Re: Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep

1 Sep 2011 11:58 in response to sammy87

Hi sammy

There isn't a medical procedure in the world that is free from risk. Even taking an aspirin can be harmful.

The risks from a colonoscopy are very low indeed and when compared with the risk of an undiagnosed bowel cancer they're negligable.

By the way, if you ask to be put completely to sleep then there's also a risk from the anaesthetic!


Re: Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep

1 Sep 2011 13:52 in response to telemando

what sort of risk am i looking at from Anesthesia?

Re: Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep

1 Sep 2011 14:57 in response to sammy87

sammy87 wrote:

what sort of risk am i looking at from Anesthesia?

Before you can have any procedure, you have to get to the hospital, and getting there is probably riskier than the procedure itself.  Do you worry about driving? Catching a bus? Crossing the road? Climbing the stairs?  If you don't worry about these things why do you worry about the risks from a colonoscopy or anaesthetic?

I'm afraid that once you find yourself on the cancer bandwagon (and no-one gets on by choice!) then being risk averse can seriously shorten your life. If you need a procedure then you need it, and not having it because it carries some low risk could end up shortening your life by many years if you get untreated cancer. You have to trust your medics to give you the best advice - and if you don't trust them then find some different medics who you do trust!

To put it in context, last year I had a radical prostatectomy. Risk of dying within 30 days from that surgery is relatively high: about 0.3%. But, if I didn't have any treatment at all then the risk of dying within 10 years from advanced prostate cancer was up to 100%. What would you do?

To answer your specific question, before you have any general anaesthetic you should have a full pre-op assessment at the hospital.  Once you've had a complete medical, any risks will be explained by the anaesthetist.  Judging from my wife's reaction to her colonoscopy, you don't really need a general anaesthetic, but if you really want one then ask for one, and accept the additional (tiny) risk involved.


Re: Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep

1 Sep 2011 18:46 in response to telemando

hi sammy

i like many others agree that the taking of the medication to clean your insides out is the worst of it but,if this is what has to be done then it is a small price to pay,and when its over you are usually ok ,so try not to worry about it,and hopefully everything is fine,so take care and let us no how you get on.


Re: Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep

1 Sep 2011 19:17 in response to sammy87


I have had several and found them more uncomfortable than painful...the guys assertions that the risk of not having it far outweigh the risks for having it are definately correct. It is very very unfortunate that they have to inform you of the risks, frankly they do so as a precaution to cover themselves. The risks are no more dangerous than taken a tablet....If you look at some of the pain relief medications and read through the sheet of paper that comes neatly folded in the packet you would never take another pill.

As for complete sedation, it is not advisable as they need to get you to move about and the sedation they give you enables you to be up and about in 10-20 mins.  You can have the sedation or take gas and air....I have tried both and are equally effective.

Please do not worry if you can, this is a scary time and we all understand what you are going through...however for some reason the cup of tea and the biscuits afterwards are the best ever, maybe something to do with not eating for a while.

All the very best, keep coming on here to let us know how you get on.

Much Love

Tony xxxx

Re: Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep

1 Sep 2011 19:52 in response to TonySong

Not sure what terms they use in the UK - when I had a colonoscopy I was offered 'twilight' anaesthetic where apparently you can respond to instructions to move etc. but you won't remember any of it.  Suited me fine.  I have a friend who insisted I had lost a wonderful opportunity to see what my colon looked like on the inside by choosing to be anaesthetised - frankly I leave all that to the experts!  But if you prefer not to have anaesthetic it's your choice.  Good luck!

Re: Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep

1 Sep 2011 23:43 in response to expat99

Hi expat,

I remember when I had mine (or not) that I said after it had finished that I didn't think the sedation had worked...the nurse replied that I should have been where she was (up by my head) as apparently my eyes were rolling about as I was out of it. I also thought it was over in about 2 mins when it had been about 10. Good stuff!

T x

Re: Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep

3 Sep 2011 13:19 in response to TonySong

The other thing to think about when opting for sedation or not is how to get home... I was told that I could not drive until the following day if I had the twilight sedation; however good I felt my insurance would be void if I had an accident.  Took public transport to the hospital and my husband was able to pick me up afterwards.  Another thing to consider.

good luck!

Re: Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep

5 Sep 2011 16:27 in response to sammy87

Hi Sammy87

     My number is on the private bit if you want to talk


Re: Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep

5 Sep 2011 22:52 in response to georgemcc

Hi Sammy,

When you are ready please let us know how you are getting on.

Much Love

T xxxx

Re: Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep

22 Jan 2013 13:59 in response to expat99

I had a colonoscopy yesterday at Plymouth and even with sedation, it was the most painful thing I have ever experienced.  Was so relieved when it was over.  My husband had one 3 weeks ago and only had mild discomfort.

Re: Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep

23 Jan 2013 18:45 in response to sammy87

Hi Sammy

I can only share my daughters experience. Firstly she was very apprehensive about having the proceedure and wanted to be put under general anasthetic . She was told the risk of perforating the bowel was greater this way as when u are awake they get an indication of how you are ( pain etc). My daughter had the proceedure last Friday with pethadine and sedative.

They had to stop the proceedure without taking required biopsies at a very tricky corner due to the amount of pain my daughter was in it was very dissapointing. He said they tried a few tricks more painkiller etc but had to judge how much discomfort is acceptable against when to stop incase damage is done!

I hope yours goes well everyone is diffeent please don't be afraid to ask your doctor questions or take someone for support!

All the best Ann

Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

14 Jul 2015 16:30 in response to sammy87

Guess I'm lucky but can honestly say never felt a thing had sedative and pain relief slept thro most of it prep day fine as well did a three day no fibre diet one day fluids only felt good only bad bit was in night headache sickness felt rotten couple glasses of water seemed to sort it wouldn't hesitate to have another my results normal couple of small haemoroids had caused my worrying bleeding good luck folks don't worry it's fine

Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

16 Jul 2015 23:18 in response to sammy87

Just had a colonoscopy and thought I'd share my honest experience.

I arrived at hospital and was taken to have blood pressure taken.  Nurse was lovely and very reassuring. I then went to a small ward and dressed in gown, patients were there who had been 'done'.

After a short while I was taken to the treatment room. There were 2 nurses and 1 Dr. All very nice. for the procedure.  I am a huge coward when it comes to anything medical so I was petrified!

The moviprep laxatives (which were taken previously) did not taste nice but certainly worked. All in all it was fine.

I was given a sedative and pain killer (injected). The colonoscopy lasted exactly 25 mins. It was not sore being entered, half way through I had about 10 mins of sore cramps.  Similar to bad wind. I did not feel the camera moving around and was unaware he had taken several biopsies.  I was awake throughout.

All over, what a relief! I was then returned to ward for about 40 mins where the nurses checked my blood pressure every 10 mins. During this time, I still had bad wind type pains. Although I have to admit, these passed once the wind was released!

My husband drove me home, by the time I arrived home and had 'released wind' again I was fine.

So, it was not nice but certainly nothing like I had imagined. If I had to go through it again I would not look forward to it but would not worry.

Overall, prep was OK (just stay close to loo). Procedure was not nearly as bad as I'd imagined, 10 mins of bad wind pains. Recovery was quick, only experienced about 40 mins of wind pains.

TIPS: Keep baby wipes handy in the loo, and wear loose fitting clothes for journey home. Also, drink something you like in between the moviprep (almost like a treat).

Good luck ..really hope this helps as I read lots of reviews which varied from Rambo (its a schoosh) to some people who told horrific stories which petrified me!

Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

17 Jul 2015 08:08 in response to Mrs W

I am a real coward and asked for a general anaesthetic both times I had a colonoscopy.  Same with my hysteroscopy, usually you just have to ask.

Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

16 Oct 2015 22:24 in response to dad1929

I just received an appointment for a colonoscopy, but- perhaps foolishly- cancelled it. I'm not worried about the preparation, because I suffer from severe from diarrhoea on a regular basis anyway. However I am nervous about the procedure. I'm well aware of the importance of having the investigation, but I would much prefer to have a general anaesthetic.

Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

16 Oct 2015 22:28 in response to lioness

That is the problem; everyone is different, and you never know how it will affect you as an individual.


Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

17 Oct 2015 16:27 in response to Drained

I have had 2 colonoscopies and 2 hysteroscopies, all done under general anaesthetic. I am an absolute coward and would not have had any procedure like that unless I was completely out of it.  Each time I have had no after effects, pain, etc.  The doctors have always said it was my absolute right to have a general anaesthetic if that was what I wanted.

Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

27 Oct 2015 14:39 in response to sammy87

I had a colonoscopy a couple of years ago with just sedation and it was extremely painful, I never want that pain again, so the next one I have will be under general anaethetic. My pain threshold is quite high, but the pain of thios colonoscopy was worse than childbirth. Every one is different and it depends on their condition, I have had ulcerative colitis for 20 years and my colon is not in great shape, which would account for the pain during the procedure. For some people just having sedation may be ok. 

Further to this post,I had the colonoscopy done in late October 2015,I had general anaesthetic(put out completely),and  I must say it was such a improvement on the last one I had done with just sedation which was so painful.The great thing about having general anaesthetic is that you know when you wake up it will be all over with no pain at all. The recovery was fine and having someone collect you from the hospital is not such a big deal. I am so glad I had it done under general. I also was told by the consultant the reason my first colonoscopy was so painful. I had a full hystorectomy to treat ovarian cancer, and part of that surgery removed part of the bowel. He said that with this sort of surgery, the bowel will generally  be replaced at an awkward angle for colonoscopy and endoscopy, which may explain why some people have little pain and some have a lot during colonocopy.  You have a right to ask for general anaesthetic and I beleive it is wel worth any very small risks involved.