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Things to Know about Sedation for Colonoscopy

Colonoscopy is a medical procedure that examines the inside of the colon and rectum using a colonoscope, a long, flexible tube with a camera attached to it. This procedure is commonly used to screen for colourectal cancer or to diagnose and treat other digestive issues.

One important aspect of colonoscopy is the use of sedation to induce sleeping, relaxation, and minimise discomfort and pain during the procedure. In this article, we will discuss the things you need to know about colonoscopy’s anaesthesia.


What is Sedation?

Sedation during the colonoscopy procedure involves the use of medications to block pain and other sensations during a medical procedure.

The type of anaesthesia used for colonoscopy depends on various factors, such as the patient’s health condition and preferences.


Why is Sedation Used in Colonoscopy?

Colonoscopy can be an uncomfortable procedure without sedation.

Sedation relaxes the patient, and reduces anxiety and pain which may be faced during colonoscopy. The colonoscope used during the procedure is long and flexible, which makes it easier to move through the colon, but can also cause cramping or discomfort.

In addition, air is pumped into the colon during the procedure to help provide a better view for the doctor, which can also cause discomfort.

Sedation helps the person undergo colonoscopy and reduce any pain or discomfort during the procedure, making it easier for the doctor to navigate and complete the examination.


Sedation Used in Colonoscopy: Moderate or Conscious Sedation

Moderate or conscious sedation, also known as “twilight sedation”, involves the use of intravenous (IV) midazolam and fentanyl to help you relax and remain comfortable during the procedure.

While under conscious sedation, patients are asleep and still breathe on their own without assistance. This type of anaesthesia is safe for most individuals and allows them to experience minimal discomfort during the colonoscopy.

Sometimes ‘deeper sedation’ may be required, and anaesthetic drugs may be used to maintain a comfort level for the patient during the scope procedure.


Factors in Deciding Which Sedation to Use

The type of anaesthesia used during a colonoscopy depends on several factors, including the patient’s medical history, age, and complexity of the procedure.

Generally, conscious sedation is the preferred option for most patients undergoing colonoscopy, as they provide adequate pain relief while allowing them to remain responsive.

However, sedation by an anaesthetist may be recommended for high-risk patients or those undergoing longer, more complex procedures.


Risks and Side Effects of Sedation

While sedation is generally safe and well-tolerated, there are some risks and potential side effects that patients should be aware of. These may include:

● Allergic reactions to the medication used

● Nausea and vomiting

● Headaches or dizziness

● Low blood pressure or heart rate changes

It is important to discuss any concerns about anaesthesia with your doctor before the colonoscopy, and also inform them of any allergies or medications you are currently taking.


Recovery from Sedation

After the colonoscopy, patients who have received sedation may experience temporary side effects. These may include drowsiness, blurred vision, and difficulty concentrating.

It is important to have a friend or family member drive you home after the procedure, and to avoid heavy machinery or make important decisions for the rest of the day.



Sedation is an important aspect of colonoscopy, which helps make the procedure more comfortable and manageable for patients.

The type of sedation used depends on several factors, and it is essential to discuss any concerns or questions with your doctor before the procedure. Properly administered sedation can help ensure a successful and safe colonoscopy experience.

By providing a thorough understanding of colonoscopy’s sedation, we hope to alleviate any fears or concerns you may have and encourage you to prioritise your health by undergoing this important screening procedure.