Tests and Procedures

Anaesthetic sedation for gastrointestinal endoscopy

Dr G M Andrew, BA (Hons), MBBS

Rapid strides have been made in gastro-intestinal endoscopy (gastroscopy, colonoscopy, ERCP, and related techniques) in the last thirty years. Gastro-intestinal endoscopy, once largely diagnostic, has evolved such that therapeutic procedures are often performed at the same time. This may prevent the need for major surgery. Safe and effective sedation has been a major factor in the development of therapeutic endoscopy. However, not all patients require sedation for endoscopic procedures. Some patients are quite comfortable with no sedation, or only minimal sedation, depending on the type and duration of the procedure.

Patients usually have three major concerns prior to endoscopy - the outcome of the procedure (could it be cancer?), complications of the procedure, and most importantly the question "Doctor, how much will I feel the procedure?" or "Will it hurt?" With modern sedation and careful monitoring the great majority of patients will feel comfortable during the procedure.

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