Is Colonoscopy Painful?

A common question posed by patients is whether a colonoscopy is painful. The short answer is NO. The reason is that most patients will be sedated for the procedure using a cocktail of intravenous medications which not only produce sedation and anxiolysis (manage anxiety during the procedure) but also analgesia (which is managing pain). Usually this involves Versed (midazolam) and Fentanyl.  Some selected patients who have a high tolerance to above medications will be sedated using an anaesthesia provider using intravenous propofol which is a deeper level of sedation. Using the above strategy, very rarely do patients wake up with an uncomfortable experience.  Also with a good scope technique and using smaller caliber, flexible scopes, and pain is extremely rare during colonoscopies. Another reason patients do not experience pain is because we now use carbon dioxide gas to insufflate the colon rather than room air. After conclusion of the procedure, the CO2 is quickly absorbed by the body so patients do not complain of painful ‘gas’ cramps in their abdomen.

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