This article on Epainassist.com has been reviewed by a medical professional, as well as checked for facts, to assure the readers the best possible accuracy.

We follow a strict editorial policy and we have a zero-tolerance policy regarding any level of plagiarism. Our articles are resourced from reputable online pages. This article may contains scientific references. The numbers in the parentheses (1, 2, 3) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific papers.

The feedback link “Was this Article Helpful” on this page can be used to report content that is not accurate, up-to-date or questionable in any manner.

This article does not provide medical advice.


Is a Colonoscopy Painful Without Sedation?

Colonoscopy is a process that allows the doctor to study for abnormalities and presence of polyps in the colon. In simple terms, it helps in maintaining good health of the colon. The only way through which the doctor can look at the colon is using the colonoscope, which produces images when it travels through the colon. The scope also blows air to enlarge the colon. Enlargement helps in achieving a clear view of the structure and maneuver the scope through the curves with ease.

The Use of Sedation

The doctor uses medicines to relax the veins surrounding the colon. These medicines also cause sleepiness. The procedure of sedation is to ensure that you do not feel the presence of the flexible tube passing through the colon. Although the scope is flexible, it does produce cramps during the movement. Therefore, doctors choose to use sedation to complete the test with ease. Also, before you attend the exam, the doctor will consider your overall health and ask for any underlying conditions to make changes to the diet.

The change of diet is helpful for the specialist to have a clear view of the colon. You may need to consume laxative through the mouth to cleanse the bowel. As the test provides clear visuals of the colon, the doctor will look for abnormalities, polyps, and other growths in the structure. Based on the results, the specialist will prepare a treatment that helps in the revival of a condition.

Is a Colonoscopy Painful Without Sedation?

Is a Colonoscopy Painful Without Sedation?

Completing colonoscopy without sedation is possible. However, withstanding the pain depends on the patient’s ability to accept the same. It varies from one to another. Researchers carried out a study on 109 patients who were undergoing colonoscopy examination. Before they underwent the test, researchers passed onto them the benefits and risks associated with colonoscopy using sedation and without sedation in a standard format. They received the opportunity to choose the test with or without sedation.

After completion of the test and within five days from the conclusion of the examination, the patients needed to scale the severity of the pain on a scale of 0 to 5 where 0 is no pain and 5 is severe pain. The range also helped understand the willingness of the patients to undergo a future colonoscopy without sedation.

80 patients underwent the colonoscopy without sedation. The remaining needed sedation to complete colonoscopy. Upon questioning, out of the 80 patients who underwent the diagnosis without sedation, only 5% experienced no pain, 41% of the remaining experienced mild pain, 34% experienced moderate pain, and 20% experienced severe pain.

Out of the total patients, 73% were ready to go through future colonoscopy without sedation, 10% were unsure about their treatment, and 18% wanted to take sedation before colonoscopy. It is feasible to perform colonoscopy without sedation and complete the same with success. However, it does not challenge the willingness of a patient to take the similar test in the future. Opting for sedation is a cost-effective approach, safe, and is necessary to offer as an alternative to intravenous sedation.

Consulting the Doctor

If you wish to opt for colonoscopy without sedation, speak with your doctor. Understand the side effects or the pain that you can experience during the procedure. Furthermore, speak about any underlying conditions, as it will help the doctor to give you a choice to attend the test with or without sedation.

Colonoscopy is a simple test and requires you to spend roughly about 60 minutes. If you choose sedation, then it is preferable to arrive with a companion who would help you reach home after the test. If there is no sedation, you can drive yourself after waiting for 30 minutes in the recovery room.


  1. Mayo Clinic. (2021). Colonoscopy. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/colonoscopy/about/pac-20393569
  2. American Cancer Society. (2021). Can colonoscopy be done without sedation? https://www.cancer.org/cancer/colon-rectal-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/acs-recommendations.html
  3. Paspatis, G. A., & Tribonias, G. (2013). Sedation in colonoscopy: when, where and how? Annals of Gastroenterology, 26(4), 303–306.
  4. Gimeno-García, A. Z., de Ganzo, Z. A., Sosa, A. J., & Quintero, E. (2011). Incidence and predictors of postcolonoscopy pain in the early diagnosis of colorectal cancer. Revista Española de Enfermedades Digestivas, 103(5), 235-241.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 22, 2023

Recent Posts

Related Posts