Background: The administration of sedative drugs at colonoscopy has its drawbacks such as increases in the rate of complications and cost. Our aim was to study how individuals, drawn from a population registry and invited to undergo screening colonoscopy for colorectal polyps, experienced the procedure without conscious sedation.
Methods: Four hundred fifty-one individuals underwent the screening examination (median age 67 years, range 63 to 72). The cecum was intubated in 369 (82%). Fourteen days after the examination, 429 of the attendees received a questionnaire designed to evaluate their tolerance of the procedure.
Results: Four hundred nine participants (95%) replied.Twenty-one (5%) of these individuals found the examination very uncomfortable, 184 (45%) found it moderately uncomfortable, and 204 (50%) did not find it uncomfortable. A larger proportion of women than men, 110 (63%) versus 79 (41%), found the procedure very or moderately uncomfortable (p<0.001). Three hundred sixty-eight (90%) individuals stated that they would undergo repeat colonoscopy in 5 years.
Conclusion: In this screening setting, routine use of conscious sedation did not seem to be necessary, as most participants found the examination to be only moderately uncomfortable or not at all uncomfortable. Colonoscopy without conscious sedation may, however, reduce the rate of intubation of the cecum and increase the risk of missing adenomas and cancers.