Psychiatrist - Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center
 
Dr. Kimberly Dennis is the Medical Director at Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center. She maintains a holistic perspective in the practice of psychiatry, incorporating biological, psycho-social and spiritual approaches…
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Can I Be Put To Sleep For My Colonoscopy?
Posted in Colon Cancer by Dr. Kimberly Dennis on Jun 23, 2010
"I have been in pain mgmt for 6 years with numerous spinal problems. I am on fentanyl and oxycodone daily. My primary wants me to have a long overdue colonoscopy, I am 60. My question is I do not want an amnesic drug and pain meds, I want to be totally out. Can they do that for me?"

The GI doctors could have an anesthesiologist put you under general anesthesia for the procedure, but the risks and poor outcomes (up to and including death) associated with that generally outweigh any benefits. I find it interesting that you do not want a medication like Versed or Propofol, given that you are accustomed to taking medication for pain.

- Dr. Kimberly Dennis

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continued from #12..
They gave me the fentanyl and versed first, in a sufficient amount because it relaxed me a lot. Then right before the procedure, they also gave me Propofol. I was completely OUT the whole time, yet by the time they wheeled me out of the OR I was wide awake. I think Propofol is a MIRACLE DRUG... it doesn't carry the same risks as general anesthesia, yet a person can be out for a procedure. I had three procedures on my back and the Propofol was great each time. I was a little bit drowsy for a few hours afterward but felt fine otherwise, whereas with general anesthesia, there are so many possible side effects. Talk to your doctor about Propofol before your colonoscopy. Best of luck!
By JenniferRose  Jul 18, 2010
13
continued from #12...

They gave me the fentanyl and versed first, in a sufficient amount because it relaxed me a lot. Then right before the procedure, they also gave me Propofol. I was completely OUT the whole time, yet by the time they wheeled me out of the OR I was wide awake. I think Propofol is a MIRACLE DRUG... it doesn't carry the same risks as general anesthesia, yet a person can be out for a procedure. I had three procedures on my back and the Propofol was great each time. I was a little bit drowsy for a few hours afterward but felt fine otherwise, whereas with general anesthesia, there are so many possible side effects. Talk to your doctor about Propofol before your colonoscopy. You'll be glad you did! Best of luck!
By JenniferRose  Jul 18, 2010
12
continued from #11..
I think the questioner might have a similar concern- that being given fentanyl and versed (in doses that they usually give to non-tolerant patients) will not have her "out" for the procedure.

However, I have ALSO had a positive experience with this issue, so I hope I can offer some advice that might help. When having some outpatient surgical procedures done for my back, I was told I'd be receiving sedation and was TERRIFIED because I didn't think it would work. The doctor doing the procedure WAS my pain doc, so he was well aware of my tolerance and anxiety issues.
By JenniferRose  Jul 18, 2010
11
I am really surprised at the dismissive answer that was given to this question.

As someone who takes high doses of pain medications for chronic pain due to spinal injury as well, MY concern when undergoing any kind of procedure that involves "sedation" is always whether or not it will actually WORK on me given my tolerance. I also have an anxiety disorder, so I worry because I know my anxiety level is through the roof before any sort of procedure, which means they're starting with a very high level of anxiety to get under control before any "sedation" can occur. I have had TWO terrible experiences at the oral surgeon, for the removal of wisdom teeth, when I was given "sedation" (fentanyl and versed) that did absolutely NOTHING for me- I was still shaking from anxiety even after the meds. I felt EVERYTHING that went on, I was screaming in pain, and I still have nightmares about it to this day. I refuse to go to ANY dentist after that experience.
By JenniferRose  Jul 18, 2010
10
My husband has a family history of colon cancer and has had several colonoscopies. All went fine. He was given valium and did not feel a thing.

I took the alternative of a virtual colonoscopy, which is not invasive. You stay awake for the whole procedure. That was not a big deal at all. There's a small tube inserted to add gas to the colon to make it easier to see. So, the closest thing to pain was simple gas pains, with gas in the colon during the procedure that I wasn't able to release until tube came out.

You still need to go through the same prep, but you avoid the meds, there's no real pain involved, and you can drive yourself home. The only downside is that if they find any polyps, they can't remove them. Then you have to go through the real colonoscopy to get that done, including re-doing the prep.
By donna7455  Jun 24, 2010
9
I have had digestive problems ever since I was a kid, so, and had bleeding. Never actually got a straight answer except that I had GERD, gastro-intestinal reflux disorder, very common nowadays, a hiatal hernia, and Barrett's Esophagus (pre-cancerous which tends to stay that way, fortunately w/ no dysplasia cells yet). So I have endoscopies frequently where the tubing and cameras go down the throat. Other than a slight hoarse throat, no real pain or symptoms afterward. Have to agree, the stuff they have you drink the day prior, is probably the worst part of the procedure.
By blondegal55  Jun 24, 2010
8
Have also had several colonoscopies, and same deal. No problem thereafter. Fortunately, my doctor knows that I get very anxious, and I have some type of amnesiatic drug, which they insert in the vein, as well as the pain killer. The amnesia sedation is so dang good, that you start counting backward from 10, and don't think I ever got passed 7 or 6! And, it's true, I didn't recall a dang thing. The funny part is, after you are in the recovery mode, then they show you the pictures and tell you and update, if they found something, and what it was, my H swears that I am talking and responding, sounding very natural and normal. And then the next day, I tell him I don't recall that part at all. In about 7 or 8 procedures, I vaguely remember even seeing the Dr. afterward, and yet, to other observers you respond as if you aren't even on the drug.
By blondegal55  Jun 24, 2010
7
I had my colonoscopy in 2008. It was my first one. Yes, the
doctor did put me to sleep. They do it through the IV sedation.
It wasn't bad at all. I was asleep for about 30 minutes and
that was it. The doctor found two polyps in my colon and took
them out at that time. Thank God, they were benign! No cancer!
I'm so glad I had mine done when I did. The polyps can become
precancerous, if they become bigger. That's what the doctor
told me. So, I'm very glad I had mine done. However, I need
to go back next year for another one. He wants me to have
one every three years, instead of every five years.

Good luck!
joanieg2006
By joanieg2006  Jun 23, 2010
6
I've had 3 colonoscopies. There was no sedation at all for the first one. On the way in, the nurse told me, "The pain is just as bad as childbirth, but doesn't last as long." That was not reassuring and unfortunately, she was right about the pain level. And the procedure seemed to last forever.

I had "light" sedation with the second one. It hurt just as much but seemed to be over a lot quicker.

I was pretty much knocked out for the third one, which was much better, but I have a very dim memory of struggling to get off the exam table and the doctor and nurse both throwing their bodies across me and yelling at me to be still, so I imagine that I felt some degree of pain and was trying to get away from it without having any cognitive understanding of what was going on.

In any event, as others have said, the prep is the nastiest part.
By madbookworm  Jun 23, 2010
5
There's no way to make people feel completely comfortable with the idea, so doctors just do the best that they can. With completely knocking someone out, it seems to be too risky. They have to use stronger drugs and do more monitoring. There is the risk of dying, so it might be like general surgery, where they try to prepare you ahead of time for the possibility. For someone who is already afraid, they might have a hard time with this.
In general with this test, I'd say go to a doctor with a good reputation and then talk to them about fears and maybe even what might happen in a worst case scenario. Looking for and finding a doctor who is good, and that listens and whom you feel comfortable with goes a long ways. Side note spiritual counseling can be helpful in dealing with various fear or pain situations.
Lastly, the people whom I've talked to about it, have said that the worst thing was drinking the stuff.
By dreamaway106  Jun 23, 2010
4
Although the doctor who replied to this is rather dismissive and snyde, the procedure itself is nothing to worry about. I think that may be why she was so dismissive. They gave me a high dose of valium and some pain meds and I didn't feel anything but some pressure. They had TV's all around the room so that they could show the patient if there were any issues. They kept me quite at ease the whole time. The sitting on the toilet cleaning myself out was a billion times more uncomfortable and anyone should be able to handle that...
By powerpro  Jun 23, 2010
3
Zenara, don't be afraid. I had one last year. Its true, the stuff they give you to clean you out is not fun. Hours in the bathroom until it finally stops. But the colonoscopy wasn't that bad. I also have been on lots of pain meds for PHN and have a very low tolerance for pain anyway. I was not put under for this, but was awake and the meds they did give me kept me sort of out of it. I don't remember feeling any pain at all.
The problem I had was that my colon is pretty twisted and there were areas higher up that they just could not reach with the colonoscopy. They scheduled me for a barium enema a few weeks later to try and get xrays that way. Now THAT was so painful that they had to stop the procedure. I couldn't hold that stuff in and the pain was unbearable. I was in tears and told them to stop. I never did get it finished.
I would much rather have had another colonscopy instead of that.
I hope yours goes well!
By PattyMM  Jun 23, 2010
2
I once was scared to death to have a colonoscopy, but I know have them regulary and the worse things is having to drink the laxative the day before to make sure you are all cleaned out! The procedure itself is an outpatient procedure where they do put you under. you cannot drive yourself home afterwards that is why you have to bring someone with you. I come home, sleep for a few hours, and then I am just fine. Make sure you have a good doctor and you do what you have to do, right?!
By juliecrawford  Jun 23, 2010
1
I clicked on this hoping for some kind of reassuring response. Instead the response is dimissive and snide.
I myself am scared to have a colonoscopy after all the horror stories I have heard.
Just because someone is already on pain medication doesn't mean they are ok with taking more. I would be afraid it wouldn't work because of my current pain issues or the meds might make me sick.
Obviously the patient doesn't want to go through this awake and I don't blame them. If they have to give you such strong pain relievers and amnesia causing meds it must be pretty bad. What information can you give about the procedure that might make people feel better about it?
By zenara  Jun 23, 2010
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