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Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

6 Apr 2018 19:50 in response to Gerry69

Nice one Gerry.

Glad it went OK for you Happy

Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

6 Apr 2018 21:46 in response to Gerry69

My colonoscopy report said something similar about not being able to see the furthest part due to inadequate prep.  They weren't concerned about it and decided I didn't need to be called back. As with you, they found diverticulitis which explained my symptoms. 

Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

12 Apr 2018 09:16 in response to goldielocks
I have had 2 colonoscopys in 2 different hospitals sedated at 1st one 5 years ago apart from the prep was pain free the team were brilliant and topped up the sedatative as i was in discomfort i remebered little of the whole thing.2 days ago i had another colonoscopy at a different hospital they didnt even wait until the sedative too have any effect.i was in agony from start to finish and the nurses attitude towards me was cold and uncaring.they offered me gas and air to try and help the pain but it made me feel i hd to put up with it.i feel both angry about the way i was treated.

Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

12 Apr 2018 09:22 in response to Amorl

You should complain. Write to the chief exec of the hospital where you were recently scoped and highlight the different way you were treated each time.  Ask for a formal apology and a review of the process so that in future patients are treated with more respect. 

Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

7 Oct 2018 20:48 in response to anna.a

My Question is if colonoscopy is so uncomfortable why is it used compared to capsule colonoscopy or virtual colonoscopy ? Surely a less invasive and painless procedures

Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

7 Oct 2018 22:13 in response to garfy

Hi garfy.

Actually, for most people it isn't uncomfortable. It's quick, painless and gives immediate results. This means that a good endoscopy service can see 2-3 people per hour, give them the results they need immediately, and either send them on their way reassured, or quickly refer them for more treatment. This is all makes it a cost effective way of diagnosing lower bowel problems. 

Unfortunately, as with any medical procedure there will be some people who have a bad time, and inevitably they're the ones we hear most about.  The large number of people who have uneventful colonoscopies are normally silent afterwards. 

Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

7 Oct 2018 23:06 in response to telemando

I agree with Telemando - I've lost count of the number of endoscopies I've had and only once has it been any worse than unpleasant. My first one was 30 years ago and the tubes then were far thicker than they are these days. 

I know some people have terrible experiences, but thankfully most people don't. 

Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

17 Oct 2018 20:43

I had a colonoscopy this morning at my local hospital . I had been told it would be uncomfortable even with sedation. Uncomfortable doesn't come near !! I was crying & had to beg them to stop halfway through . The prep the night before was bad , I was throwing up most of the second litre . I have to have a C T scan now instead. I will never return for  another one. I have given birth to two children  & know what pain is like, but couldn't cope with the colonoscopy !

Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

18 Oct 2018 00:01

Sorry I honestly wasn't trying to be smug.

You are right, the professionals should be more upfront about the risk which is obviously significant and can have a terrible impact. I guess they are wary of over-stating this side of things in case it causes people excessive worry.


Best wshes


Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

10 Nov 2018 00:01 in response to telemando

I was in total agony with the two colonoscopy procedures I had. The pain, despite the maximum 

dosage of relaxant or whatever it it is they give you, was unreal. I think it is sadistic that people who experience chronic pain aren’t put “out” if need be. I asked my doctor if I could be put out for a third one he thought I needed. My nurse friends said it was my right to be put out if I requested it, but the subject was dropped after that, and I still haven’t had the colonoscopy for investigative measures.

i feel very angry about this, and although some people “hardly feel a thing” others feel l8ke they could scream. Unfair. 

Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

18 Dec 2018 13:16 in response to telemando

First time posting and wanted to give honest opinion of my experience.  46 year old, 16 stone, male, Highlands of Scotland.  Got referred for colonoscopy 2 weeks ago and had procedure yesterday.  Appointment was booked for 13.45 on Monday.  I got the leaflets about the low fibre dietary requirements and to be honest didn't eat much at all over the weekend:- 8 slices white toast on Saturday and on Sunday I just had one of that bowls of ready made mash and a couple of chunks of chicken for lunch and then a couple of slices white toast at dinner time.  Guidelines from my hospital said that as it was pm appointment I should take all my klean-prep on the morning of the procedure.  Started taking at 0745 and managed the 4 litres in 16 mugfuls at about 15minute intervals.  I starting going to the loo after about 6 mugs. I went to the loo 13 times before leaving house to go to hospital.  I was pretty much passing clear liquid after the 4th trip to the loo but my booklet said try and take all the klean-prep if you can so I continued to end. I found it to have a vanilla taste with a metallic after taste and I did struggle a wee bit with the last few mugs. Although going to the loo a lot I did not have any of the stomach cramps you get with diarrhoea.  Got to the hospital and taken for pre procedure checks (temp, heart rate, blood pressure) then got the cannula put in arm for the sedative (I asked if I would be the "odd man out" if I was taking the sedative and the male nurse said that just about everyone takes it). Nurse asked if Ihad managed all the laxative, I said I had, he said well done a lot of people don't manage but that it is better to finish it if you can as it makes the procedure easier. Then taken through to changing room and given modesty pants and dressing gown. Whilst in the final waiting area before going for procedure I went to the toilet twice more and passed some clear fluid.  Then taken into the room for the procedure - 1 lady in charge of the endospcope and 1 male nurse and 1 female nurse with me. They gave me the sedative, asked me to lie on my left side and then started the procedure at 15.22.  The procedure took about 20mins. A couple of times they asked to roll onto to my back to help get the tube round corners and then roll back onto my side - I reckon I moved position about 5 times and the procedure finished with me lying on my left side.  At the times when the tube was going round corners they pumped air into me and a couple of times I felt a bit of discomfort but not any great pain at any time. Throughout the procedure I was chatting with the staff - they were telling me what they were actually doing and we also spoke about work, tv shows, plans for dinner etc.  during the procedure they took tissue samples for biopsy - could see this happening on the monitors but couldnt feel anything. Have to say that I did not feel any embarrasment or nervousness in front of the staff and they were all very nice about the whole thing.  After the procedure I was wheeled through to "recovery room" and given cup of tea and a couple of biscuits. I had taken some wet wipes and some pocket tissues with me so I gave myself a quck clean before putting my boxer shorts and jeans back on.  I then got picked up by the wife as wasn't allowed to drive due to taking the sedative. Having not eaten much over the weekend and then having the laxatives I was starving so I had chinese takeaway for dinner. This is just the honest story of my experience and I fully understand that some people will have a worse time than me but I can honestly say that in my experience yesterday neither the laxative nor the procedure were too bad and I would hate to think that people missed out on any early detection etc through fear of having colonoscopy.







Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

18 Dec 2018 14:16 in response to junior

Thanks for sharing your positive experience. Not everyone is so lucky I know but it helps to share the good as well as the bad.


Good luck with your biopsy results!


Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

19 Dec 2018 17:24 in response to sammy87

This article now rates highly on Google for searching about pain during colonscopy, and as someone who has just had their first one, I wanted to share some useful bits for anyone who is wondering how painful it might be and whether to have sedation or not.

I came across this article which I found immensely helpful:

The bottom line is, MOST people who have a colonscopy unsedated will experience at most moderate pain, many had only mild pain or none at all. Only 20% experienced severe pain (note that these figures are for unsedated - when sedated, the number experiencing any pain will be much lower).

Whether you experience pain or not will depend on many factors, including the shape and size of your body/colon, existing medical conditions, the skill of the doctor, and to some extent how relaxed you are during the procedure.

I did it without sedation on the doctor's advice and it was aboslutely fine. It was like having gas after a spicy meal, but that was just my experience. I am only 32, and yet a large adenoma was detected and removed which was thankfully not cancerous, but the doctor said the procedure likely saved my life as from the size and histology it had a good chance of turning cancerous within the next few years. I can't tell you how unbelievably happy I am that I had the colonscopy, despite not sleeping for 4 days before out of fear.

My advice would be, if you are unsure about sedation, then have the cannular put in but no sedation to begin with, as the odds are you will be fine. Start the procedure and see how you get on. If it's too painful, sedation can be administered during the procedure no problem in most cases, and can be increased if needed.

The key thing is TALK TO THE DOCTOR and tell them how are you feeling. Mine was enormously comforting and guided me slowly through the procedure when he saw how nervous I was, and it made such a difference. The nurses were amazing too, and having a hand to squeeze makes everything all the more tolerable Happy

Definitely DON'T skip it because you are nervous, it's just too important if a doctor has said it's required. I guarantee that undiganosed colon cancer is MUCH worse.

Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

17 Jan 2019 18:46 in response to Gerry69


I really cant say how damn scared I am right now.

I had a flexible sigmoidoscopy a couple of days ago - they found Ihad 2 tiny polyps, also 3rd degree piles.

Now I have to go for a full colonoscopy and I am absolutely terrified.

Why cant full sedation be done in UK?

I wanted to go for CT scan but was told no because I have polyps.

I really do not want to suffer more pain with this vile COLONOSCOPY.

Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

17 Jan 2019 23:27 in response to Anonymous


By full sedation, I assume you mean a general anaesthetic - which was the question posed by the original poster.

In the UK (and elsewhere) the risks and benefits of what degree of sedation or anaesthesia, if any, should be used are routinely considered . 

The number of deaths attributed to the use of general anaestetics is now quite low in the UK* (0.001% or 1 in 100,000). The number of patients suffering an allergic reaction is slightly higher (0.01% or 1 in 10,000). The number of patients suffering permanent nerve damage is significantly higher (0.1% or 1 in 1,000).. Overall there's about a 0.111% chance of serious complications under general anaethetic. Not massively significant to an individual patient but when set against the massive number of operations performed by the NHS every year (over 5 million) and the almost equally massive number of endoscopies (over 3 million) you can see why there's a reluctance to use general anaesthetics more often. By not routinely offering a general anaethetic with an endoscopy the risk of over 3,000 people per year suffering serious complications (and potentially 30 people dying) is massively reduced. 

That said, your surgeon should assess the balance of risk and benefit for each individual patient and if there is a high risk that you would suffer emotional trauma by not being given a general anaesthetic that should be taken into consideration. It would be worth discussing your fears and concerns with your consultant before your endoscopy to discuss what options are available under your specific circumstances.


Good luck