Takahashi, Y., Tanaka, H., Kinjo, M. et al. Dis Colon Rectum (2005) 48: 855. doi:10.1007/s10350-004-0860-0
The administration of sedative drugs at colonoscopy has its drawbacks, such as increasing the rate of complications and the cost. There are a number of potential advantages to performing colonoscopy without sedation. The aim of this study is to evaluate patient tolerance and acceptance during sedation-free colonoscopy.
Pain during sedation-free colonoscopy was evaluated in consecutive series of 675 patients in a prospective manner from January 1, 2003, to February 18, 2004. We recorded the degree of patient pain during colonoscopy, willingness to undergo sedation-free colonoscopy in the future, the complication rate, and the intubation time. The assisting endoscopy nurses and patients independently assessed the pain level immediately after the procedure using a four-point pain scale (nil, mild, moderate, severe).
Almost all colonoscopies (99.6 percent: 672/675) were successful. There were four complications related to colonoscopy (bleeding after polypectomy). Patients and nurses rated pain by a four-point pain scale as follows. For the patients: nil, 69.6 percent (470/675); mild, 28.0 percent (189/675); moderate, 2.2 percent (15/675); severe, 0.1 percent (1/675). For the nurses: nil, 76.1 percent (514/675); mild, 22.7 percent (153/675); moderate, 0.9 percent (6/675); severe, 0.3 percent (2/675). Patients rarely suffered from severe pain during carefully performed colonoscopies. The pain level of almost all colonoscopies was acceptable by patients, with only six patients (1.0 percent) stating that they would never undergo a colonoscopy without sedation in the future because of unbearable pain.
This study suggests that carefully performed sedation-free colonoscopy rarely causes complications and is well accepted by most patients. Sedation-free colonoscopy is more cost-effective, may be safer, and should be offered as an alternative to colonoscopy with sedation.