Everything You Need to Know About Sedation During a Colonoscopy

During your colonoscopy procedure, you will be sedated for your own comfort. Many people who undergo this procedure are curious about what type of medication is used, whether they will be aware of what's happening, and how quickly the side effects of the medication wear off. 

Intravenous Sedation

For a colonoscopy, IV sedation is generally given and is categorized as deep or moderate sedation. It is not the same type of sedation used for a major surgical procedure, which is classified as general anesthesia. You will be asked to give a complete list of medications, allergies, and past medical history to your healthcare team before your colonoscopy. Normally, your IV will be started prior to going into the colonoscopy procedure room. 

Types of Medications

Patients can request a colonoscopy without the use of a sedative, but it is estimated that only one percent of people choose this route. Most people receive some type of medication to induce sleep. Normally, you will be given:

  • A benzodiazepine, such as Versed, which causes a feeling of relaxation, pain relief, and induces sleep.
  • Meperidine or Demerol is also given, not only for its pain relieving properties, but also because it also causes drowsiness.
  • Another medication called Diprivan or propofol is used in some cases, but only when an anesthesiologist and resuscitation equipment are present. Diprivan causes a much deeper sleep than Versed or Demerol, but can have have side effects such as low blood pressure and slowed breathing. 

The Side Effects of the Medication

All three types of medication listed above have a wide array of side effects. More common side effects include drowsiness, dizziness, fainting and weakness. Use of propofol can cause feelings of confusion, impaired reflexes, and impaired thinking.

No matter which type of sedative you receive for your colonoscopy, you will absolutely need a driver and it is recommended that someone stay with you at home during the first 24 hours. You may feel nauseous, or the following day have a hard time remembering very much about your procedure or the trip home. This is perfectly normal. 

The Recovery Room

After your colonoscopy is complete, you are taken to a recovery room where your respiration, heart rate, and blood pressure are carefully monitored. On average, most people need an hour to three hours in the recovery room. This allows the effects of the sedatives to wear off enough that you may go home. Often, a nurse or assistant will give you a snack to break your fast and regulate your blood sugar. 

Other Important Details

After leaving the medical office or center, you must not drink alcohol or take any sedative type medication. Tranquilizers and muscle relaxers should also be avoided, as they can increase the effects of the medication received for the colonoscopy. Your driver will be sent home with specific instructions concerning your care. 

For more insight on the whole process, contact clinics such as Northwest Gastroenterology Associates.