Background: Benzodiazepines, especially midazolam, are the most frequently used agents for gastrointestinal endoscopy worldwide. Among other parameters the quality of sedation is determined by patients' satisfaction assessed after endoscopy. This approach is misleading as the potent amnestic effect of midazolam conceals pain actually suffered during the endoscopic procedure involving distraction of the endoscopists from their actual tasks by audible reactions and defense movements. In this study, we eliminated the influence of patients' amnesia on the assessment of the quality of sedation and rather interviewed endoscopists and their assistant personnel about their experience with midazolam sedation. We replaced the mostly vague term 'compliance' by terms which unequivocally describe the reactions of the patient during an unpleasant endoscopy.
Methods: A short survey consisting of 12 questions was developed. The questionnaires were distributed to the participants - 115 endoscopists and their assistants - of a tutorial about sedation for gastrointestinal endoscopy in three major Southern German cities. The questionnaire retrieved the endoscopists' experience regarding patients' discomfort or pain under sedation with midazolam, their wish for better sedative agents, their preferred sedative regimens, their medical specialty and their professional experience.
Results: Participants were highly experienced with the majority having more than 10,000 procedures and a median of 18 years of endoscopic experience; 77% of endoscopists utilized midazolam for sedation. Ninety-eight percent of the questioned physicians felt that patients have pain during endoscopy with midazolam+/-opioid, but do not remember later. Ninety-two percent reported that it happens that patients moan aloud because of pain and almost half of the endoscopists (48%) reported of screaming. The majority of the endoscopists (91%) reported fierce defense movements with midazolam or the need to hold the patient down on the examination couch because of fierce movements, respectively (75%). Seventy percent of the endoscopists wished to have the rooms for endoscopy preferably soundproof away from the waiting room and 93% wished for better sedative agents.
Conclusions: Midazolam was rated as insufficient for sedation by both endoscopists and their assistant personnel. A wish for better sedative drugs exists.