Do You Need Sedation for a Colonoscopy?
I’m not a fan of invasive procedures, nor am I a fan of anesthesia. Here at HealthNOW Sunnyvale Functional Medicine Center, we advocate the most natural and least invasive treatment possible. But, obviously, there are certain things for which one has no choice. I don’t think childbirth is one of them (in most cases) but I have always thought colonoscopy = sedation… Until yesterday.
A family member of mine is also not a fan of drugs or medical procedures. Her husband is quite the opposite, although my influence has resulted in him changing his diet and taking some supplements that he agrees have made a huge difference in his health. When it comes to certain things, he is unrelenting and has been adamant about his wife receiving a colonoscopy. What worried her the most was the sedation, and she set about to find out if it was truly mandatory. Just goes to show you that if you never ask the question, you’ll never find out the answer.
While only representing 1% of all colonoscopies done in this country, it turns out that performing the procedure without anesthesia IS done. Probably the biggest problem you’ll have is finding a doctor willing to do it. And you DO, based on my research, want to find a doctor who does the procedure without anesthesia regularly as they will have skills that you want. Understanding how a patient ‘feels’ when not out cold, is something you want when an apparatus is being snaked up your colon…especially around the corners!
Anesthesia not only has risks, it’s expensive and there is some research to support it can cause memory problems later in life. Anecdotally I can tell you that my mother had surgery two years ago (anesthesia was mandatory as it was spinal surgery to repair an old surgery) and she was mentally never the same afterwards. The surgery was a ‘success’ but her memory and quality of life have certainly suffered. Yes, that’s completely anecdotal, but there is data available supporting such findings.
As a clinician at HealthNOW Sunnyvale Functional Medicine, I was excited to hear about this option for colonoscopies. Below I have included some excerpts from the email my family member sent me after her experience. There’s nothing like hearing it from the ‘horse’s mouth’ so to speak.
“To all of my friends who said that I was insane for wanting to have a colonoscopy without sedation, I have one word for you… “WEENIES”…. that’s what you all are. After spending the day before the colonoscopy in the toilet, I can tell you that the most courage you need for this entire procedure is to drink the vile liquid required to clean out your colon. After you get over that, the procedure itself was a breeze.
“I reiterated to my doctor that I did not want any sedation, and the entire time I got to watch the procedure on the big screen. He told me everything he was going to do as he was doing it and complimented me on the fact that I had such a beautifully clean colon. There was a total of 3 seconds of discomfort when he made a turn in my colon, but that’s it.
“During the procedure you feel some pressure, but if any of you have ever had an enema, it felt exactly the same. Frankly, going to the dentist is far more painful than what I experienced.”
“So the good news is that I am fine. He took out two very tiny polyps, but otherwise said it was one of the nicest colons he has ever seen. So maybe all of that organic food has been a good thing all of these years. When I got home, my tummy did feel a little sore, but after I passed some gas everything was back to normal.”
“I highly recommend doing this procedure awake. It’s interesting to see and know what is happening to your body at all times. Having never done this before, I have no idea what all the fuss is about doing it sedated. Personally, there is no need to be sedated for this test—save it for something way more important.”
So there you are. If you have concerns about anesthesia, which I think you should have, it’s nice to know that this procedure doesn’t actually require it. I would be happy to share the name of my family member’s doctor, but she lives in Las Vegas.
I do think it would be worth the due diligence to find someone with anesthesia-free experience. It’s better for your body, your brain and your pocketbook! And, of course, the best assurance of a healthy colon is the quality of what you eat, avoiding foods you shouldn’t eat, a healthy probiotic population and the avoidance of chemicals, pesticides, hormones, etc.
We specialize in healthy GI tracts here at HealthNOW’s clinical nutrition department. While we can’t make any guarantees, as it not legal, I can tell you that we are very confident in our ability to improve the health of the digestive tract— the MOST important system of the human body, second only to the brain and nervous system.
Do You Have Any Digestive Complaints?
If so—contact us at HealthNOW Sunnyvale Functional Medicine for a FREE CONSULTATION. Call (408) 733-0400 to schedule. We are located in Sunnyvale, CA. If you are not local to us, our DESTINATION CLINIC treats patients from across the country and internationally. We will help you find the underlying root cause!
To your health,
Dr. Vikki Petersen
IFM Certified Practitioner
Founder of HealthNOW Medical Center
Author of “The Gluten Effect”
Author of eBook: “Gluten Intolerance – What You Don’t Know May Be Killing You!”