Options for Sedation During Colonoscopy Procedures Part I

The Colonoscopy screening exam is one that is vitally important to one’s health, and having a colonoscopy is one of the best ways of detecting and eliminating any pre-cancerous growths in your colon area. But it is also important to understand what types of medications will be given during your procedure so that you are fully informed about what to expect with regards to what drugs you will be given to manage your pain during your procedure and to know in advance that some doctors will use different medications.

1. Most Used Drug Combinations During A Colonoscopy:   Fentanyl and Versed

Fentanyl which is an analgesic drug or drug given to control pain, and Versed, which creates amnesia, or loss of memory in most patients about the procedure that they are having done.

Fentanyl,  also known as Actiq, Duragesic, Fentora and Sublimaze and is most routinely used in an operating room setting for the anesthesia and also in intensive care units.  It is also used very frequently with cancer patients to treat cancer pain.

Versed, otherwise known as Midazolam, is a medication that is commonly given to patients undergoing colonoscopy or other outpatient surgical procedures. It’s primary use is that of an amnesiac drug, or a drug that will cause you to forget. What many patients are not aware of is that if you are given Versed it does not necessarily mean that you will not have pain, but it may cause you to forget pain.  Most of the time patients have no difficulties with the fentanyl/versed combination. However, because of Versed’s effect on the memory, some patients report memory issues for months and years after having a procedure done, and in most of the reported cases, these patients were not adequately informed about the possibility that Versed could cause some longer term memory issues. Additionally,  I have heard of some patients who reported mood issues and anxiety for weeks or months after taking the drug. Now, every drug can certainly have side effects and each drug can effect a patient differently, but I believe it is the absolute right of every patient to know in advance of a procedure the types of sedation that will be used, and the right to question their physician and ask for an alternative form of sedation to be used, if the “normally used” method is not an acceptable risk to the patient.

In our earlier article about understanding medication options we explained how critical it is for patients to find out in advance of the expected procedure, what medications will be used. It is simply not fair, in my opinion to expect a patient to make an informed choice right before a certain procedure is done.

Our next article, “Colonoscopy Sedation Without Versed, ” will focus on some other options for colonoscopy sedation that do not include Versed.

Video Showing Colon Polyp Detected During a Colonoscopy